When Christenson Chevrolet went away last year, so did Santa Claus.
The dealership in Highland, Ind., near Chicago, had put up a 20-foot fiberglass Santa every year for decades. It even started bringing him out of storage for an annual “Christmas in July” sale.
But that stopped after the Christenson family sold their store to Garber Automotive Group. The new owner wanted to buy Santa, too, but the Christensons held onto it as a memento of their longtime business.
“People were interested in what happened to it and upset on Facebook,” Craig Blacklidge, general manager of the store, now called Garber Chevrolet Highland, told The Times of Northwest Indiana. “I figured it was my civic duty to get it back.”
Blacklidge discovered that the previous Santa came from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, which calls itself the world’s largest Christmas store, in Frankenmuth, Mich. He bought a new one that’s almost identical, except with green gloves instead of black.
Now the statue, which weighs more than a ton and had to be shipped in three pieces to fit on a truck, is back in Santa’s longtime spot, waving to traffic at one of the city’s busiest intersections.
“We’ve gotten so many thank yous on Facebook and thank you emails,” Blacklidge said in a story published last week. “People have said they’ve taken their family to see it for 40 years and that they’ve been taking photos in front of it with their children for years.”
Garber plans to bring back the Christmas in July sale so that St. Nick can resume his traditional summer visits to Highland as well.
“The response has been above and beyond anything I’ve ever experienced at a car dealership,” Blacklidge said. “The best one was someone thanking me for returning normal to our lives during a difficult year. They said they go to visit it to feel comfortable.”