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Rescued Santa

Rachael Zuch, museum curator for the Cumberland County Historical Society, shows a vintage plastic Santa Claus that was rescued from the garbage many years ago and will be part of an upcoming Christmas display.

Downtown Carlisle Association found its model for the 2019 Carlisle Heritage Series Christmas Ornament thanks to an alert Dumpster diver.

The ornament features an image of the large plastic Santa Claus figures that were on light posts of Carlisle from the late 1950s into the 1960s. The ornament features a color print of the Santa decoration in the center against a black and white background photo of Veteran’s Courtyard in 1964, showing the Santa decoration on a light post.

“There’s a lot of excitement on this one because it’s the second time we’ve found an artifact and actually have access to it, photographed it and turned it into a graphic,” said Jim Griffith, association board member, project chair and owner of Create-A-Palooza.

Griffith worked with the Cumberland County Historical Society, looking through hundreds of historical photos to look for decorations that could still exist.

“Not only are we looking for photos that shows the place and time these decorations were used, but also we want to locate the original piece. Of course that is the hard part,” he said.

At one time, a number of these Santas could be seen downtown, but they were discarded as new decorations were purchased and installed. Then, sometime in the 1980s or 1990s, this final Santa was found in a Dumpster and donated to the Cumberland County Historical Society, he said.

“That’s the only one that exists, by accident,” Griffith said.

The Santa Claus decoration is owned by the Cumberland County Historical Society. It will be unveiled Nov. 30 prior to the Christmas parade, and will be visible through Christmas at the History on High window at 33 W. High St.

The porcelain ornament goes on sale on Small Business Saturday for $15.

They will be available while supplies last at The Whistlestop Bookshop, 129 W. High St.; Helena’s Chocolate Café & Creperie, 36 W. High St.; History on High, 33 W. High St.; Create-A-Palooza, 11 E. High St.; the greatest gift, 117 N. Hanover St.; American Artisan Gallery, 35 N. Hanover St.; Comfort Suites, 10 S. Hanover St.; Marjorie’s Gems, 44 S. Hanover St.; Pat Craig Studios, 30 W. Pomfret St.; and Camellia’s Sin Tea Parlor, 36 W. Pomfret St. Cash, check or credit cards will be accepted.

This is the second year for the Carlisle Heritage Series Ornament. Last year’s ornament featured reindeer that hung over Santa’s house on the Square in the 1950s and 1960s. The DCA located two of the original three reindeer that were rewired by DeRock Electrical and put back on the Square for the season.

All 300 available ornaments sold out in three weeks, said Glenn White, executive director of DCA.

White said he was amazed at how fast the ornaments went last year, and expects this year’s to be sold quickly, as well. The images on the ornament tugs at the heartstrings of the people who grew up with them, he said.

“Christmas was a magical time for them. They do remember these things,” he said.

Funds raised from the project go to the association’s fund to maintain the downtown’s holiday decorations and other downtown beautification projects.

Organizers are calling on the community to assist with future pictures and ideas of where historic decorations may be stored.

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Email Tammie at tgitt@cumberlink.com. Follow her on Twitter @TammieGitt.

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Carlisle Reporter

Carlisle Reporter for The Sentinel.