DECATUR — Santa House returned to downtown Decatur on Tuesday amid gray skies and cold rain.
Tim Dial smiled anyway. “Hey, you better watch out,” he called in a singsong voice to the small group of volunteers gathered in Central Park. Dial stores the house year-round, and the company he works for, Customer Service Crane, donates time and equipment to move it downtown.
Dial, 53, has been helping with the house for 20 years. “I’ve always said when I retire that’s what I want to do anyway,” he said as he climbed a ladder to tie the house’s roof to its foundation. “Be Santa’s helper.”
Santa’s other helpers included Dave Munson, owner of Dave Munson Construction, and two of his employees. He is a member of the Metro Decatur Home Builders Association, which built the house in 2004 and gathers volunteers to install it each year.
Munson, 50, has been helping put up the house for so many years that he’s lost count, sometimes despite rain, snow or even ice.
“It’s just something I enjoy doing, giving back a little bit,” he said.
Jarrod Cox, events and sponsorship coordinator for the Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce, said putting up the house is a community effort. It’s a big benefit to downtown businesses, too.
“It draws people. All the kids want to see Santa’s house, see Santa Claus. It’s something that is every single Christmas in downtown Decatur,” said Cox, 31.
While the week after Halloween might seem early to some, Cox said the idea is to give the house’s decorator plenty of time to get it ready for Santa.
Santa’s first visit to the house will be after the Christmas parade Nov. 23.