OFFBEAT: Santa Sensation - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Black Oak, AR--Bob Snell Reports

OFFBEAT: Santa Sensation

December 23, 2005--10:00 a.m. CST

BLACK OAK, AR--It's that time of year when children are a little nicer, in anticipation of a visit from the toy master himself, Santa Slaus. But there's one Region 8 grownup that takes her love for Santa to a whole new level.

Joyce Whitten is a collectors collector of Santas.  "I don't know I've just always loved this kind of thing," said Whitten. "There's not an ugly Santa out there, they're all pretty."

And Whitten should know, she's been putting Santas in her sack for more than 40 years and so far, has gathered more than 1200 Santas, a house full of jolly ole souls.  She keeps count in her christmas kitchen on a chalkboard on the fridge, because this time of year, the number of St. Nick's changes daily. 9

"A lot of times they just find me," said Whitten. "If there's a Santa there I'm going to look at him. But I have gotten a little more selective over the years, because the collection is about to run us out of the house."

Ofcourse with more than a thousand Santas in her collection, it just begs the question, what do you do with all of them. "You tuck them hear and you tuck them there," said Whitten.  "And when you really run out of room, you put them in the bath tub."

Yes, there's even a Santa taking a bubble bath. In fact every room in the house has lots of Santas spread around and they range in size from a half inch to a 5' 8" life size Santa Whitten made herself. Many of the Santas were gifts but most others were purchased, and even at a dollar a piece.  "Yes I know. You just don't take that into consideration," said Whitten. "When you're collecting you don't take those kind of things into consideration. You just go for it. People are really kind, they don't say your nuts. No, no, no, they just know that I'm slightly demented when it comes to this time of year. I don't know, it just happened. I've always been fascinated by Santa Claus."

I'll bet Santa only has to check his list once when it comes to Joyce. "I love the old world santas, the funny ones, any santa is beautiful to me," said Whitten.

The Santas don't stay up year round, come January 1st, Whitten boxes them up in frenzy during 5 ten hour days.  Then she does the same to put them back out, starting the week before Thanksgiving."


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