It may be the week before Christmas, but Santa Claus still has time for kids.
In fact, he’s opened his house up to them.
This is the 17th year that Santa’s house has been open on Vaughn Road. It began with residents Ronald and Betty Page inviting friends over to see a village they had set up in their front room. The next year, Ronald Page bought a Santa suit and opened it up to the public. That year, 50 people visited their home. That number has grown to around 10,000.
“We started off just me doing it,” Page said. “The kids the first year told their mother, ‘We meant for you to do it too.’”
So now, visitors begin in the Page’s house where Mrs. Claus is waiting to greet them. They wander around watching a Polar Express train make its way around a village of 110 homes and look at Santa figures and stuffed animals in one of the bedrooms. In the kitchen, the table is set with Christmas dishes, and visitors can sign the guestbook and make a donation. And, in the Page’s bedroom, visitors can see walls that are lined with nativity scenes and angels.
“When they enter the house, they see what the real meaning of it is,” Page said. “We like them to know what Christmas is really all about.”
After leaving the main house, visitors walk down a path in the yard, which is decorated with 50,000 lights and 147 inflatables, to the 12-by-30-foot workshop where Santa sits on his chair waiting to see each child. Page used to sit in the main house with his wife but moved to the workshop about four years ago.
“It got so crowded people couldn’t even get in,” he said. “We have a lot of people come. We have a lot of fun.”
Chrissy Nielsen brought her three children—ages 8, 7 and 4—to the Santa House for the first time this year, even though it’s only 10 minutes from her home. She found it through a Google search.
“I was trying to find something to do away from the hustle and bustle,” Nielsen said. “We love the coziness. Santa was so nice. He took with each of them.”
Nielsen said the Page’s light display beats those at Lake Lanier and Callaway Gardens.
“This is amazing,” she said. “(My kids) are very excited.”
Jeannette Stallings of Nashville, GA, wandered around the light display with her 3-year-old son Joseph and her nephew. Stallings said she hasn’t been to the Santa House in eight years.
“It’s wonderful,” she said.
Her nephew, 8-year-old Jesse Winters, said his favorite part was Santa’s toy shop.
“It shows all these toys,” he said. “It makes me think about Christmas.”
The Pages don’t charge for the visit. Donations they receive from visitors cover most of their expenses.
“With economy like it is, we have so many kids that if they had to pay, their parents really couldn’t afford to bring them,” Page said. “We have a lot of them. We get enough donations to cover a big portion of it. As long as we can do that, we’re not going to charge. We just do it because we love the community. We’ve had parents tell us that this was a big part of Christmas because they lost their jobs and have no money. This is something that maybe makes their Christmas a little brighter. That’s what it’s all about.”
The Santa House is located at 6951 Vaughn Road. It is open every day this week from 6-9:30 p.m.