North Pole's got nothin' on him

When you walk into the front room of Nelson and Jan Donovan’s house in Georgetown, a life-size Santa and Mrs. Claus start singing and dancing. All around them, more decorative Santas.

Nothing to raise an eyebrow at. It’s Christmastime, after all.

There’s another big Santa at the end of the hall. He might make you jump if you weren’t expecting him. And there’s a large assemblage of Santas on the far side of the kitchen – more Santas than you’ve seen in anyone’s home.

In the back room, the den, it becomes apparent there’s more than Christmas decorating going on in the Donovan house. There’s a whole army of Santas in there.

Nelson Donovan has a collection of 500 and counting.

“I’m gonna blame it on Jan,” Nelson said. “I got my first one when I was still at home with my mom and dad, but when we got married 37 years ago – “

“I always gave him one for Christmas. Still do,” Jan said. “Then my mom would find them at Wilson’s Auction. My dad has actually bought some for him. People started giving them to him as gifts and then he got into yard sales, auctions. We just bought seven at Wilson’s.”

Nelson’s Santa collecting really ramped up around 1999, when they added a detached garage and gained some storage space. This year, they DIY’ed some shelves using ladders to display them all.

The most expensive Santa in the collection cost about $75 and came on a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Many require batteries. There’s a Santa on a scooter. A Santa that hula-hoops. Chef Santa, golf Santa, sleeping Santa. One Santa will moon you.

“When my kids were younger they enjoyed it,” Nelson said. “Now it’s the grandkids’ time.”

The Donovans have three children and three grandchildren. Most of the family helps in the massive task of getting the Santas out and putting them away, but Jan is official arranger of the Santas.

“I fuss about them,” she said. “But my girls say I encourage him.”