Sunday, December 11th and 18th, Summerville will host two very special visitors… Mr. & Mrs. Claus straight from the North Pole. Santa has quickly become a cherished tradition on East Washington Street at the home of John & Kristy Dennis. In 1995, John’s father, Namon Dennis began playing Santa while John took pictures of the visiting children sitting on Santa’s lap. In those early years, Santa’s visits took place on the porch of the old house located at Summerville’s Trade Day, Curtain’s Crafts & Things, and the Catalogue Store in Trion. Namon & John made a great team and the Santa pictures became a holiday staple for hundreds of families across Chattooga County. Santa brought along an authentic sleigh and a fabulous wardrobe giving every guest a keepsake photo that became a timeless Christmas memory.
In 2013, John took the helm of Santa’s sleigh, donning the big red coat and famous red hat to become Saint Nick. Kristy Dennis joined him as Mrs. Claus and the Christmas tradition continues.
What started out as a way to make a little extra money while going through law school has become a timeless tradition for children of all ages and an honored privilege for John Dennis. “When I was putting myself through law school, I made SANTA pictures across the county for pay. My dad was my SANTA. I worked the camera.” said Dennis.
John’s father was willing to do anything to help his son’s dream of law school become a reality. And that included dressing as Santa nearly every weekend in December for many years. “Mom used to complain about Daddy leaving her alone on those long Saturdays and Sundays to ‘fool with kids he didn’t know no how.’… He loved the kids. Loved seeing the kids as much as the kids loved seeing him,” said John.
After John became a part of the Chattooga County Bar Association, the magic of Santa never left him. In 2013 John and his wife Kristy dusted off the sleigh and pulled out the red coat and brought Santa and, in a way Namon Dennis, back to Summerville. The same sleigh his father used is now on John’s front porch along with a custom made sack and the addition Mrs. Claus. “Every time I suit up as Santa, I am putting on my Daddy.”
For the next two Sundays, rain or shine, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available for photos in Santa’s sleigh located at 292 East Washington Street. Hours will be from 1 pm until 5 pm each Sunday. People of all ages and pets are welcome. There is no charge for the photos, however a belief in magic and the joy of Christmas are required. Bring your camera/cellphone and capture your family Christmas memory with Santa. The Dennis Family will have free Santa calendars as long as they last. Visitors are welcome to dress up or dress casual.
Please hashtag #SummervilleSanta and post your favorite pictures! All On Georgia will be featuring some of the photos posted throughout December.