Here comes Santa (and Mrs.) Claus
December 24, 2013 09:55 PM | 10556 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Betty Page kisses her husband, Ronnie, after helping him get into his Santa Claus suit, as they transform into Santa and Mrs. Claus for visitors to their home on Vaughn Road, just like they have for the past 21 years.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Betty Page kisses her husband, Ronnie, after helping him get into his Santa Claus suit, as they transform into Santa and Mrs. Claus for visitors to their home on Vaughn Road, just like they have for the past 21 years.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Good boys and girls in the community don’t have to visit the North Pole this time of year to find Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Ronnie Page, 69, and his wife Betty, 68, have been Santa’s helpers for 21 years, opening their home in the Hickory Flat community

to as many as 12,000 excited visitors each December. With more than 50,000 Christmas

lights, and hundreds of breathtaking decorations and collectible Christmas items, their

house has become a well-loved stop for families throughout Cherokee County.

Santa and Mrs. Claus are on hand at the Page’s house more than 20 days each December to meet and talk with children before Christmas, but Page said the tradition of opening their home each December started as an accident.

“It was an accident. I’ve worked at Morgan’s Ace Hardware in Woodstock for years, and we started bringing in Christmas decorations,” he said. “I brought some home, and Betty started buying a few Santas. ... We’d invite a few people in to see it, and they started telling people about it. And we’d have some call and want to come see it, so the first year we had 50-something people come see what we had.”

Over the years, the couple has collected a large amount of Christmas décor. Inside the house, there are about 50 to 60 animated pieces, a tree with 2,000 lights, a large Coca-Cola collection, a room filled with about 110 village houses and a Polar Express train, a Christmas tree with more than 100 Beanie Babies decorating it, a large doll collection and a room filled with angels and nativity sets.

Soon, the number of visitors increased to thousands, and the Pages made it an annual event.

“Our children told us we seemed to enjoy it so much. … It just grew and grew,” he said.

Gary Hardie, a Woodstock resident, said his family has been coming to the Page’s house for the past 15 years.

“This is just phenomenal. My wife Barbara and I have been bringing our girls, starting with Morgan, now 19, Meredith, 16, and Madelyn, 6, to this event for the past 15 years,” Hardie said. “It is so real and has the true meaning of the Christmas season in the air. There is no Black Friday atmosphere here, just a relaxed stroll through all these lights.”

Page said his children and grandchildren help to bring out the decorations each year.

“This year we got a little bit of a late start setting up,” he said. “This year we started in the last week of September.”

Page said he and his wife also decorate their yard each year to prepare for when Santa visits, setting up more than 50,000 Christmas lights, around 30 inflatable decorations, more than 40 lit deer, a garden full of decorations, an outdoor Nativity scene and a giant candy cane with the story of the popular Christmas candy.

Page said he and his wife have been recognized in the community for their work, receiving the Carter and Elizabeth Browning Award, and said they were “really honored to get it.”

“Betty and I received the Carter Browning Award this past year,” he said. “It’s an award for people in the Hickory Flat area who have contributed to the community and done different things that help the community and people enjoy.”

Page was humble and said the two didn’t think they deserved the award, but many community members may disagree.

Free Home resident Candice Herrin and her husband Chris brought their children to the house on Vaughn Road for the fifth year in a row.

Their son, Spencer, is 10 and loves trains, and their 8-year-old daughter, Ryley, likes to visit with Santa.

“This is our fifth-annual trip to the display, it is so relaxing and not commercialized like other places people go to tell Santa what you want for Christmas,” she said. “It truly feels like family here, one big happy family getting to enjoy the holiday like it should be.”

Page said they might have to tone down or stop their Christmas event next year, depending on his wife’s health. She has dementia, Page said, but is “fine and doing good.”

“She’s been diagnosed with it for about two years. Right now she’s doing great and her neurologist and regular doctor both told her to keep doing it as long as she could, they said it’d be good for her and keeps her mind busy,” he said. “She says she’ll do it without me next year if I don’t do it.”

His wife said she enjoys opening their house to families and doesn’t want to stop.

“The doctor told me to keep doing familiar things that I enjoy and this is it,” she said.

Page joked, with a smile and a wink, that Santa would be replaced if he stopped the annual Christmas event.

“I told Santa there would be another man with a white beard in a red suit sitting next to me on this bench next year,” she said patting the seat of her reclaimed yard swing, painted in Christmas white and red paint, “if he decided to make this our final year.”

Page recalled the story of a boy last year, whose question stuck with him.

“Last year, my wife had a little boy tell her, when he found out she was sick, he looked at her and said, ‘Mrs. Claus, you’re not going to quit doing this are you?’ And she said, ‘No, honey, why?’ And he said, ‘I just wouldn’t know a whole lot about Christmas if you didn’t do this,’” he said.

Page said every child who visits Santa and Mrs. Claus in December doesn’t go home empty-handed.

“We give all the kids a big candy cane whenever they come see Santa,” he said.

Page said the best way for the community to keep up with his wife’s health and the future of the winter wonderland at their house, is by checking his Facebook page year-round.

To find him on Facebook, search for “Ronnie Page” in the search bar at the top of the page.

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