GLOCESTER – Motorists traveling on Route 44 in Glocester might do a double-take when passing the field at Chepachet Village Wine and Spirits where, looking ready to take off to the skies, is a large-as-life realistic replica of Santa in his sleigh pulled by reindeer and led by red-nosed Rudolph.
Kevin Kitson, owner of the liquor store, calls the display a, “grand entrance,” to Chepachet village that enhances the small town atmosphere.
“It’s kind of cool to have such a life-sized display,” Kitson said, noting that the outdoor decor is made in America, and crafted from fiberglass, “not cheap plastic.”
“These are the real deal,” he said.
Not only is the material not cheap, neither is the cost of quality. Each reindeer costs $2,000, and six were needed to complete the set.
Like Santa’s helper, Kitson 20 years ago negotiated so the town purchased the santa, sleigh, and three reindeer figures from a seller in Burrillville. He also managed for the town to acquire a an additional Santa and others figures that were displayed at Town Hall, and are now brightening Kent Pavilion.
Money also to be raised for the complete reindeer team and for lights to illuminate the display, a project finally completed this year. The Kitson family and Glocester Town Council President Julian “Jay” Forgue and family donated, and the GBA was the primary contributor for the display.
He says he’s been spreading holiday cheer for 25 years through involvement with Christmas in Chepachet.
Erecting the sizable display at his store takes time, but Kitson said the effort is worthwhile, especially because, “the kids will never forget” seeing Santa and his team of furry friends, according to the local business owner.
“The memories you’re building are for the kids – whether they leave or not – and hopefully they stay,” Kitson said.
Volunteers including Mike Branch of Precision Towing lent Kitson a hand assembling and setting up the display. Mike and Sue Branch are now the owners of an 18-foot Santa the Glocester Business Association voted to sell.
In fact, that towering jolly old elf is a sort of relative of the Chepachat Santa and reindeer crew. The high-quality holiday decorations are manufactured by the same company – Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland. The Frankenmuth, Mich. manufacturer is, “the world’s largest Christmas store.”
Bronner’s tall Santa now stands outside Giuseppe’s Pizzeria and Bistro on Smith Avenue in neighboring Smithfield.
After the holiday season, the Chepachet Santa, his sleigh and team, will take a break.
Fortunately, says Kitson, they have a home tucked inside an 18-wheel tractor trailer, provided by the late Lloyd Clark.
Meanwhile, this holiday season, Santa, sleigh and deer stand ready to fly.
And Kitson is offering an invitation to the public.
“We welcome people to come with their families and take pictures,” Kitson said.
However, he adds with a joke, “Treat the deer kindly. It’s not deer season.”