Eight years ago, Clarksville Mayor Jo Anne Smiley opened Santa Land in city hall with Santa Claus and one Christmas tree in a single room to welcome families to the river town for the holidays.
This year there will still only be one Santa in the flesh, but 250 other Santa ornaments or dolls, 37 Christmas trees and more than 150 snowmen spread over three rooms in city hall at 111 Howard Street.
With lights and Christmas ornaments galore, it’s quite a sight.
“It took two weeks to put up,” Smiley said. “Almost every year somebody brings something but most of it is from my collection.”
The exhibit expansion to three rooms was made possible when city employees asked for a break room. That’s when Smiley rounded up volunteer work and donations to redo two rooms in the back of city hall for the employees and Santa Land.
“In the old days it was the jail cell and police department and it was a mess,” Smiley said. “This year we wallboarded and fixed it and it didn’t cost the taxpayer a thing.”
The yearly task for the community “pleases me a lot,” Smiley said. “I hope it’s received with the delight it gives me.”
That probably won’t be a problem, as youngsters and parents began streaming in on opening day, Saturday, Dec. 1.
Santa Claus — who looks a lot like local merchant Ralph Quick, was there to greet children and parents. Mrs. Claus — who has a striking resemblance to Quick’s wife, city alderwoman Caron Quick — was also on hand.
There is also an elf, played by Mary Margaret of Clarksville.
Santa Land will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day through Monday, Dec. 31.
Special Santa days with the bewhiskered one will be from 3:30-6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 and from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15 and Sunday, Dec. 16.
Special days complete with real reindeer in the park next to city hall will be held from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, Dec. 17-19.
Special reindeer days will also be held 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 22 and from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sunday and Monday, Dec. 23-24.