Prince Albert’s old Santa Claus display has a new home in Buckland

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) Don Fyrk and Wendy Fyrk pose with the restored Santa Claus in their front yard.

A once familiar Christmas decoration has found a new home north of Prince Albert.

The City of Prince Albert used to have a giant Santa Claus on display in the City Hall Park. Through a journey to the city dump, Don and Wendy Fyrk found that Santa Claus and now have it on display in their yard on Lempeurer Road in the RM of Buckland just outside of the city.

Don said they found this Santa waving at the top of the hill when pulling into the dump in 2019, and immediately wanted to bring it home.

“I said, ‘Oh, they can’t be throwing him away,’” Don remembered. “I said, ‘Why would they? Why would the city through Santa away?’ Because I remember Santa when I was a little tiny kid.

“He was originally in City Park Hall in the winter inside the old fountain they had before the new City Hall. Then when the new City Hall came, they had it standing at the corner there, and then they took it up to the tourist centre.”

The City eventually replaced the giant Santa with a different Christmas display and sent the old decoration to the dump.

“What’s funny is when they got rid of him, they made a Christmas tree out of tires red and green” Don said.

Wendy talked to the supervisor and they were able to haul him home to restore him. The supervisor permitted them to take the Santa Claus to a friend’s place, where they stripped and replaced fibreglass parts.

“I still have to do more work to do on the head,” Don said.

Don was not sure why the City got rid of the decoration. He said the Santa was in rough shape, but had been patched up and kept around.

“I think they just … decided not to fix him anymore,” Don said.

Don figures that at this point Santa is over 80 per cent restored at this point.

“We’ve been using it like this for the last four years, but I’m going to have to redo him again next summer,” Don said.

The original restoration project at his friends took a couple of weeks of working every day to complete.

Wendy is noted for her work in dog rescue in the RM of Buckland, but also worked to rescue Santa Claus. Don said that he did the bodywork on Santa but Wendy did the legwork.

“So she did the rescuing,” Don said.

Wendy explained that seeing Santa Claus at the dump put her mind to work. Like Don, she was shocked to see the old giant Santa surrounded by garbage.

“It was, ‘why would they throw Santa away?’” she remembered. “If you’re going to, then hide them right away, because that was kind of jarring.”

Initially, Wendy wasn’t sure they could get permission because you are technically not allowed to remove objects from the dump.

“I thought he’s kind of cool. Maybe we can fix him up and if we can’t, then I guess he goes back to the dump,” Wendy said.

Wendy explained that Don is great at fixing something like Santa, although there were some challenges along the way.

“I only had half a head to work,” he remembered. “When the guy went to load them for us to take them down to the shop, he grabbed him with the clown bucket by the head and took off about half of the head.

“(It took) a few cans of spray foam to make some hair. (We) put a piece of cardboard in there to fill them in.”

Wendy said Santa looks all right in his current state. Santa is stored in the barn all summer to try and keep him out of the elements and keep him in better shape. Both Don and Wendy say the weather can be hard on him.

“My next project is to do the work boots on him,” Don said. “There’s a few little spots that I had missed before.”

Originally Don planned to do the boots and touch-ups this year but he had health issues which he has now recovered mostly from.

“He would look a lot prettier but you know, life happens,” Wendy said.

Don said that he has found an artist to do a new face for Santa for next Christmas.

“I will try and have him done for next year,” Don said. “I think if has some cosmetic surgery he will look pretty darn good for a guy that age.”

The yard is easy to find in December because Santa is prominently displayed. They used to put Santa on the other side of the yard past the fence but moved him to a more central display.

“The trees are in the way and I don’t know why, (but) something just said put them in the yard this year,” Wendy said. “I was afraid of somebody coming and doing something to him … and that would be heartbreaking. I mean, come on.”

The giant Santa has already become a popular attraction.

“I get people saying, ‘when are you putting Santa up?’” People (are) just driving by,” Don said.

“At night we’ve got all the lights on the fence and a spotlight on him so it looks pretty cool,” Wendy added.

They also wanted to put a specially made large Prince Albert Raiders jersey on him in the fall but the weather can be hard on Santa.

The Santa remains a popular attraction and the Fyrk’s are proud to keep him alive.

“It’s really kind of neat to have them in the front yard,” Wendy said.