FAIRFIELD — Fairfield residents are in for a treat this holiday season like one they’ve never had before.
The Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Committee is in charge of decorating Central Park in lights, wreaths and large lawn ornaments such as a manger scene, angels, carolers, reindeer, elves and of course, Santa Claus. Each year, the committee updates its offerings by adding an ornament or refurbishing an old one. But this year is different.
For the first time in decades, Santa Claus will host children in a brand-new Kandy Kane House, built by JC Huffman Cabinetry in Fairfield. Not only that, JC Huffman has remodeled Santa’s old house, turning it into a workshop where kids will be able to make their own ornaments to hang on the Christmas tree.
“I believe Fairfield has the most beautiful town square,” said Teresa Huffman of JC Huffman Cabinetry. “I wanted to take advantage of that by giving families a Christmas they would remember.”
Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Darian Sloat approached Huffman about remodeling Santa’s House. No one was sure just how old it was, though Huffman said she’s spoken to people in their 60s who remember visiting it in their youth.
“It was time for an overhaul,” Huffman said.
But Huffman recognized that what the town really needed was an altogether new structure, and that’s what she and her colleagues at JC Huffman Cabinetry set out to build. For the past eight weeks, Huffman, her husband Jim, supervisor JD Copple, the Huffmans’ daughter Chasity Dunkin and the rest of the store’s employees have been hard at work building Santa a new house and remodeling his old one.
Santa’s new house will have one door for entering and one for exiting. The new one also will have a station for making hot chocolate, so the public can enjoy a warm beverage while waiting in the cold to see Santa. Santa’s house will be handicapped accessible with ramps and 36-inch door frames.
Since JC Huffman Cabinetry makes fireplaces, the staff thought it was only appropriate to put one in Santa’s home to keep his visitors warm and create a festive mood. His workshop will be heated, too, with an electric heater.
A professional photographer will be present every Friday night in the lead up to Christmas to take photos of kids with Santa. The picture will print immediately for the children to take with them to Santa’s workshop where they can put it in an ornament. They can choose between a star, a Christmas tree and a snowman design. All of the ornaments have been made and donated by JC Huffman Cabinetry.
“Kids will be able to decorate their ornament with sequins, or put little embellishments on them like sticky rhinestones,” Teresa Huffman said.
Some of the money for the new construction of Santa’s house and the remodeling of the old house came from the chamber, and the rest of it came from donations that Teresa Huffman solicited.
“Without community donations, we couldn’t have done this,” Huffman said. “I needed their help, and they graciously pulled through.”
Huffman said Santa’s new house is twice as large as his old one, with the new one measuring 10 feet by 20 feet (200 square feet), while the old one measured 8 feet by 12 feet (96 square feet).
As of Tuesday, Nov. 5, Santa’s house was only missing the flooring and another coat of paint, and then it would be ready to transport to Central Park along with Santa’s workshop and all the other holiday decorations.
Santa will be in his Kandy Kane House from 6-8 p.m. on the following days leading up to Christmas: (Note that Santa’s workshop will only be open on Fridays): Friday, Nov. 29; Saturday, Nov. 30; Friday, Dec. 6; Saturday, Dec. 7; Thursday, Dec. 12; Friday, Dec. 13; Saturday, Dec. 14; Thursday, Dec. 19; Friday, Dec. 20; Saturday, Dec. 21.
Holiday Lighting Ceremony
Santa’s house and Santa’s workshop will open to the public on the night of the Holiday Lighting Ceremony, Friday, Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving. On that night, a volunteer will be chosen to flip the switch to turn on all the holiday lights in the downtown. This year’s event is sponsored by Everybody’s Whole Foods.
Members of the Fairfield High School choir will serenade the crowd with singalong Christmas carols at 5:30 p.m. At 5:55 p.m., chamber director Darien Sloat will announce the person named by the chamber’s Christmas committee to flip the switch, “turning the darkness into a holiday wonderland,” according to a news release from the chamber.
Shortly thereafter, Santa will arrive by escort to open the new Santa House on the northeast corner of the square where he will listen to children’s hopes and dreams for the best Christmas ever.
There also will be free horse drawn wagon rides around the square.
Among the new decorations this year are life-size nutcrackers standing at the entrance to the north and south end of the park. These new decorations were purchased with donations by residents to the chamber’s annual Tree of Lights campaign that raises funds to maintain and purchase decorations for the square, as well as a matching grant from the Greater Jefferson County Foundation.