Standing more than 6-feet tall, the “waving Santa Claus” is back after a 10-year hiatus, thanks to the efforts of Marty Fredrickson with the help of the city of Marion and Dave and Jackie Crofoot, local residents.
Making his return this year at Marion City Library, the waving Santa, is a name synonymous with happy memories for people who saw him this year, for others who saw him in year’s past, and if Fredrickson can make it happen, for many years to come.
Prior to Santa’s return, it was atop Marion City Hall or at the corner on Santa Fe Street by the flagpole.
Fredrickson said he has no idea how old this Santa is, but suspects the jolly old fellow is somewhere between 60 and 80 years of age.
“While there’s really nothing to indicate his age, I’m guessing he’s from the 1960s era,” he said. “I remember the waving Santa when I was a kid, and people on Facebook have written that they remember him from the 1960s, and a couple from the late 1950s.
“I can remember coming into town and wanting to see the waving Santa,” he said. “He has created many, many, many memories over the”years.”
Even the name “waving Santa,” is something children and adults called him, and for all the years, he was an iconic symbol of the holidays year after year until 1991 or 1992, Fredrickson said.
“Although he stayed in Marion County, Santa stopped making public appearances because a motor burned out, and the mechanism which made it possible for him to wave was unrepairable,” Fredrickson said.
With the prognosis bleak on whether Santa would ever wave again, and in need of a good coat of paint, his new home was a storage area at the old water plant on North Walnut Street.
Fredrickson said Santa resided there until the Crofoots inquired about why he wasn’t part of the holidays anymore.
“Most of the time when people asked me what happened to Santa, I would say he was on vacation in the Bahamas or taking a sabbatical,” he said.
After almost 10 years in storage, Jackie Crofoot made a serious inquiry, he said.
Not wanting to leave Santa in storage, Frederickson said he hoped she could make use of him.
“For the next two or three years people would say they spotted Santa at the (Marion County Park and Lake),” he said.
After learning the waving Santa was waving again, and had been painted at some point, Fredrickson said he drove by the Crofoot’s home to see him.
“I never saw him, though, so last year I asked if the Crofoots might consider donating Santa back to the city,” he said.
The Crofoots were in the process of moving from the lake area back into the city and were willing to donate Santa, but on one condition.
“Jackie asked me if they could be first on the list should the city ever decide to re-donate Santa to someone,” he said. “They also didn’t want any credit for fixing the motor mechanism so that Santa could wave again. Dave (Crofoot) told me he didn’t want the city making a big fuss about it.”
Jokingly, Fredrickson said: “I told him we were just planning to have a big parade and huge dinner in their honor for donating Santa back.”
Even so, he said the citizens were grateful to the Crofoots for taking good care of Santa.
“We have had a lot of compliments about Santa being back on display, and people like his new location near the workshop on the library grounds,” he said.
“I would be very curious to learn more about our waving Santa,” Fredrickson said. “I think somebody probably cut it out of plywood and painted it to begin with.”
Fredrickson said he would be interested in learning who made this Santa and when.
“It’s the little things that count and our waving Santa is back and again making memories for children and parents,” he said.