JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT)–Thousands of Santa’s are not at the North Pole this year. Instead, they’re inside one special home in Jacksonville, affectionately dubbed “The Santa House”.
Their collector, Liz Owens, developed a love of Santa at a young age. Her father gave her a cherished Santa doll in the 1950’s. After she married, her collection took off.
“It started out on one side of the fireplace, and then they went to two sides of the fireplace,” Owens said. “They went into the kitchen. Now they’re in the living room and the dining room and who knows where they will go next.”
She estimates there are over 1,000 Santa’s in her home.
“Every year I say I’m not going to buy any new ones and every year I see one and of course I have to get it,” Owens said.
Every kind of the jolly old elf you can imagine is inside her home.
“We have some from foreign countries, and we have talking ones, dancing ones,” she said.
There’s also a barnacle Santa, driftwood Santa, and even a selfie Santa. And of course, there are ECU Santa’s in a special room.
“It takes us about a week to get them up and that’s working steady,” Owens said.
Only one figurine has a permanent place every year: a kneeling Santa and Baby Jesus figurine located in the very center of the mantle.
“Their faces just talk to me,” she said. “Plus I’ve had friends come by and say, ‘Liz, I’m not going to use this Santa anymore would you take it?’.”
That answer is always yes.
“We were going to put a sign in the yard, ‘Home for Unwanted Santa’s,’ because I had so many people coming by just giving me Santa’s because they knew how much I loved them,” she said.
Owens and her husband begin setting up the Saint Nicks the day after Thanksgiving, as long as there isn’t an ECU game.
“People think I’m a little weird but they know this is going to be my house and every year they say, ‘Did you get your Santa’s out this year?’ and every year I say, ‘Oh yes!’”
Owens says she isn’t worried about running out of space, she’ll always find room for Santa.
As sad as it will be to take them all down, the Owens begin during old Christmas in January. The process takes about three weeks because they take their time.