By Josh Saunders
A fanatical Father Christmas collecting family showcase their 6,000 strong Santa ho-ho-horde worth more than $115,000 (90KGBP).
James and Megan Rahe, 37 and 28, are opening up their ‘winter wonderland’ to the public, with festive figurines ranging from the size of a small coin to seven feet tall.
The Christmas loving couple from Commerce City, Colorado, have specially craft pieces that are worth up to $5,500 (4.3KGBP) to tiny coat pins, salt and pepper shakers and more.
The collection was started by James’s father Rodney, 74, but within the last ten years the family have been more serious with the hobby.
In the run-up to December 25, James claims to spend up to ten hours a week dusting, polishing, repairing and arranging the pieces.
In addition to at least two hours a week searching online auctions, estate sales, as well as flea markets, charity stores and more for new additions.
People often doubletake and believe the family ‘crazy’ for their Christmassy collection but are left ‘flabbergasted’ after seeing the masses of Santa Clauses.
James, a warehouse manager, said: “Everyone who has laid eyes on the collection though finds it amazing.
“Anything Santa-related we have it down there – from salt and pepper shakers to pins, cake tins, cookie stampersxXX, some nickel coins with Santa printed on them.
“The largest ones we have are life-size up to seven feet tall and the smallest are probably the size of a nickel or figurines that are half an inch tall.
“It’s an unusual thing to collect so some people think it’s a bit out there and crazy.
“For other people their eyes light up and they think it’s the coolest thing they have ever heard.
“It’s one thing to hear a number but another thing to walk through and see something like that.
“A lot of people are like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is crazy’ when they see so many variations of Santa Claus, it seems to knock them back a couple of steps.
“From there it’s just happiness and smiles.
“It’s a goal of ours to share our collection with other people, it would be nice to find somewhere to set up seasonally or build a museum.”
James started collecting Santa Clauses as a way to bond with his father at 15-years-old.
But since his mid-20s he ramped up the hobby and took over the sizeable Santa horde, which he now displays in his 1,400 square foot basement.
James said: “My grandad used to wear a Santa pin on his shirts during Christmas and my grandma would paint Santas onto plates, they were important pieces to my father.
“I got hooked through him, I bought a few in my teen years but it wasn’t until my mid-20s when we started going crazy buying them.”
James believes the collection helps to make him feel more festive but his main motivation is seeing the joy it brings to his father.
He added: “It makes my dad so happy to see our collection set-up and not stashed away in boxes.
“Every time he goes down there he has a permanent smile on his face looking at them all especially as he forgot about some of them.
“It makes me smile and has been a great bond between my father and I, the happiness it brings him is probably my number one drive for it.
Among the collection he lists Harmony Kingdom, Possible Dreams, Lladro, Jim Shore, Pumpkin Seeds, Lynn Haney, Melody in Motiion, Lennox, Pipka, and more than 50 other makes.
Many of the pieces they source online from estate sales and auctions, but they also look through stores, flea markets and more where they can often pick up a bargain.
James added: “It makes me feel festive look for the different Santas.
“It’s a great hobby for my dad too, he came across one at Goodwill for $8 (6GBP) and as soon as I saw it I knew it was a hand-carved Russian Santa, it turned out to be worth up to $400 (320GBP).
“Each year my wife and I buy at least 500 new Santas and it has no sign of slowing down any time soon.”
James admits it’s a worrying time opening the collection up for others to see, but he hopes it will be worth it and bring festive cheer to others.
He added: “We have a speaker set up there to play music.
“It’s nerve-wracking but also exciting, you worry someone could touch or break something.
“At the same time, I would rather it be enjoyed then kept away for very few eyes to see.”