GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) – A Kansas town is celebrating Christmas all year long with its Santas Around the World exhibit.
The exhibit includes 24 life-sized Santas representing different countries and regions, including Scotland, Africa, Australia, and Brazil, to name a few.
“These were created because Great Bend was coming into its own as being a Christmas city. The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau wanted to display Santas around the downtown for people to come shopping, but also to have a Christmas experience,” said Michael Dawes, the Director of Public Relations for Rosewood Services.
The Great Bend Convention and Visitor’s Bureau commissioned local artist Loretta Miller to sculpt the first Santa in 1999. Miller would go on to create 23 more by 2005.
“When she was commissioned, this was the first time that she ever did anything life-size, so as you can tell through that five and six-year period, you know, it was a learning and growing process for her,” Dawes said.
In 2013, the Santas were donated to Rosewood Roots and Wings Foundation, a branch of Rosewood Services, a nonprofit dedicated to helping those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Rosewood Wine Cellar now houses and cares for the Santas and their accompanying trees and holiday decor. They welcome visitors, about 600 a year, to view the pieces of work, especially closer to the Christmas season.
“We do have plans to move them into a more spectacular environment, even better than what you see now, and trying to make them so that they are accessible for the most part all year round,” Dawes said. “We are really going to expand it out. It’s going to be a treasure for the community and a treasure for Loretta. We always think of her when we are putting this together because we want to do right by the artist.”
Miller helps maintain the 24 Santas. Rosewood recently commissioned her to create a Mrs. Clause to add to the collection.