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Caleigh (4) and Christina (7) Kusmierski Tell Santa Their Christmas Wishes

8,847 Visit Bay City's Santa House During 2007 Christmas Season

Saturday Was The Last Chance to Visit Santa This Christmas Season

December 23, 2007       Leave a Comment
By: Stephen Kent

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The late Nate Doan and his wife Mary Ida were as close to the real Santa as anyone can get. For years Nate played the part every Christmas and also held regular classes for would be Santa's from far and wide. One of Nate's great wishes was for a magical place where all children could come to see Santa, regardless of their background or status.

The Santa House on the river walk became the reality of that dream. The little log house served for years as the home of the East Michigan Tourist Association and sat on a spot that is now the parking lot of the Doubletree Hotel. At Christmas the little building would become the Santa House for a short, magical time.

Some years ago the Nate and Mary Ida Done Santa House organization arranged to move the house across the river to a spot just south of the community center and swimming pool. "The building is leased from the City for 30 years with an option for 30 more." said Santa House president Keith Shore, nephew of the late Nate Doan.

Each year, from the first Saturday after Thanksgiving until December 22, the house is open daily so children and parents can visit with the jolly old elf. By closing time on the last day this year more than 8,847 visitors had come to visit.

Santa is accompanied each year by Mrs. Clause and is assisted by 30 to 40 local elves who volunteer to help out. Santa usually invites a couple of his reindeer to make the trip south for at least a week. This year a pair came along and stayed for the entire season.

The house is much larger on the inside than it looks from outside. It is decorated from top to bottom with Christmas trees, gifts, toys, and displays. "Everytime you turn around you'll find something you didn't see the first time", said volunteer elf Norman Moore. "About a third of the displays are new each year".

As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the Santa House depends on contributions and donations to fund each season. "We're entirely a volunteer organization", said Shore, "It's the community's generous support that makes this whole dream possible. There is no admission charge and all children are welcome. If visitors want to make a contribution it's very welcomed."

As Christmas Eve approaches, Santa was greeting the last group of children Saturday evening. He'll be off to make his rounds soon. But you can be sure that the day after Thanksgiving next year Santa and his helpers will be back in Bay City at one of his favorite places.

Scarlett Arnold (9 months old) isn't sure about Santa as Mom Janelle and Dad Jason look on.
Dalton Swanbeck (10) takes picture of parents Carl and Gloria
Family portrait
22 Month old Moranda Fritz looks at the elf dormitory
Santa giving the team a snack before their long trip home tonight.

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Stephen Kent

Steve Kent and his family have lived in Bay City for 40 years. He is VP of Technical Services at MMCC which produces MyBayCity.Com. Kent is active in many Bay City civic organizations.

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