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Seeing Christmasland

Santa hangs out in Humboldt

November 29, 2009
By HANS MADSEN, Messenger staff writer

HUMBOLDT - Santa had a question for Jayden Walters, 3, of Des Moines, Saturday afternoon after he asked St. Nick for a pony at the Kiwanis Christmasland display in Humboldt.

"How big of a pony?"

Walters wasn't sure, so Santa offered him some options.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Ariel Hauser, 7, of Renwick, spends a little quality time with Santa Saturday afternoon at the Kiwanis Christmasland in Humboldt.

"This high," Santa asked, holding his hand just off the floor. "Or this high?" holding his hand as high as it would go.

Walters still wasn't sure but he did get to leave with a candy cane and some parting words from Santa.

"Look for me in about 24 days," he said.

Fact Box

If You Go

Where: Christmasland is on First Avenue South between Fifth and Fourth Street near downtown Humboldt.

When: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m every night until Dec. 23. 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. every day beginning on Dec. 21 including Christmas Day. Closed on Christmas Eve.

Cost: Free admission. Donations are accepted. A photo with Santa is $3.

Brian Ricklefs, president of the Noon Kiwanis in Humboldt said the display has been open every holiday season for 28 years. Members add new items every year. Many of the displays are animated with moving figures. After Ricklefs joined the club, his mom gave him some interesting news.

"After I joined, I found out I had been here as a child," he said.

While Ricklefs was keeping himself busy helping out with photos and greeting visitors, there is one job he won't be doing.

"I'm not Santa material," he said.

Ariel Hauser, 7, of Renwick, had a few requests from Santa. She wanted an iPod, laptop computer and a cell phone. After making the last request, Santa had a question for her too.

"You going to call me?" he asked.

Hauser didn't have to think very long before answering.

"Yeah," she said.

He sister Autumn, 11, drew a blank when Santa asked her what she wanted. After considering it for a few minutes, she did come up with one request.

"To find my iPod," she told the Jolly One.

This year, the Jolly Elf is being helped out by club members Dave Lee and Kent Thompson. It was Thompson's turn Saturday to wear the red suit and giant white beard.

"I love seeing the wonderment in their eyes," he said.

He did admit that he would have to brush up a bit on some of the things being asked for.

"I get a lot of requests for electronics," he said, admitting that he wasn't familiar with many of them.

When Samantha McPherson, 8, of North Liberty, had her turn on Santa's lap, she told him she had a list of 31 items.

"Two of them are for me and the rest of them are for my family," she explained afterward.

The one item she did want for herself she whispered into Santa's ear.

"I asked for a phone with only my mom and dad's number on it," she said.

For many families, visiting the display is very much a part of their annual Christmas traditions.

Jan Dodd, of Humboldt, took her grandchildren Gabriella Anderson, 7, and her sister Payton, 5, to see the display. Payton really liked the trains and Gabriella the animals. Dodd explained that the visit starts the Christmas season for the family and that she took her own children there when they were little.

She did have to stop and do a little math though.

"That was about 20 years ago," she said.

Sean Heetland, 3, attended with his parents, Maria and Kendall, the family lives in Aurora, Ill., but was visiting family.

"We come pretty much every year," Maria Heetland said.

Sean did learn one important lesson - the red bulb on Rudolph's nose is a little hot when you touch it.

Shannon Kunert, of Humboldt, also brings his family to the display.

"It's a ritual, we do it every year," he said.

Santa seemed to recognize him and with a twinkle in his eye asked him the question.

"Have you been a good boy."

To which Kunert replied, with a hint of a twinkle in his own eye.

"Of course I have."

Contact Hans Madsen at (515) 573-2141 or



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