NORTH OGDEN — Christmas is looking a little merrier and brighter at the city’s Santa House at Bicentennial Park. Thanks to many donations of money and time, the Santa House is in better shape than it’s ever been, right down to the new “naughty and nice” list next to Santa’s chair.
Changes to the house started last year when interior designer Leslie Liechty ran into community events coordinator Lorrie Frazier when she was shopping for ornaments for the Santa House Christmas tree. Frazier asked for Liechty’s advice to freshen the house.
“We got talking and decided it could use a makeover,” Liechty said. The two asked for help and donations from several other members of the community over the past year to totally refurbish the house.
Liechty volunteered her time and started looking at thrift stores and around her own house for items she could re-furbish and donate. She re-decorated a clock, tables and books to give them a Christmas touch.
The city’s Civic League donated the house to the city in 2003. It’s transported to the city’s Bicentennial Park on 2700 North and Washington Boulevard each November.
Liechty has brought her children to see Santa there for years and was always bothered by the old Victorian chair, white walls and office furniture that adorned the place before. Her pictures always turned out blurry because the lighting was off also.
Liechty asked Parker Dixon, a Boy Scout looking for an Eagle Scout project, to help. He went to work with friends and got numerous donations of time and money. He stained the beams in the house, then painted the walls and the wood. Liechty then added a personal touch to the wood to make it look like faux wood paneling.
Dixon really enjoyed working on the project. He never visited Santa there as a child, but knows of several families who make it a regular tradition, so for and he and his friends it meant something to tackle the project.
“It was much busier than I anticipated, but it was no problem,” Dixon said. He was pleased with how quickly everyone jumped on board to help. Local businesses donated paint and supplies and many of his friends volunteered to do the work.
Liechty and Frazier were putting finishing touches on the house earlier this week and were in awe of all the projects that were donated.
Liechty pointed out the faux fireplace mantle created and donated by John Reynolds. She pointed out carpet and electrical supplies donated by another business and many of the odds and ends Liechty’s husband helped her create. The Santa chair is new, built by city employee Ken Kolb.
“We learned how to upholster when we did this chair,” Liechty said as she pointed out the shiny red upholstery on the chair.
Susan Fullmer donated a copy of a Santa watercolor painting hanging above the fireplace.
“The thing that is really neat about this is that all these North Ogden people helped with this project,” she said.
“When you sit in the chair, you just feel jolly,” she said with a big grin.
Frazier has spent many hours at the Santa House the last few months and is thrilled with the outcome. She is also happy for all the man hours and supplies donated, since budgets are tight.
The city spent hardly any money on the project, she said.
“A light bulb, nails, but that’s about it,” she said.
“We want this to be a great experience for everyone that comes in,” Frazier said. She noted that parents are welcome to take pictures of their kids when they come to visit Santa and that they get time in the house alone with their children and Santa.
“We try to make it special,” she said.
Santa will make his first appearance at the house at 5 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Christmas tree lighting. He then will be available from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. every Monday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays until Christmas.
Children can bring letters to Santa to the mailbox at the house starting Dec. 1. Letters will be returned with a personal message from Santa, so they all must include a self-addressed stamped envelope.