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1,000 Santas and counting
If you drive by the home of Victoria and Robert Flores in Hesperia, you won't see a Christmas display in front of their house.
But once you step inside, you would be hard pressed to find one spot that does not have some form of old St. Nick.
Victoria Flores, with a lot of help from family and friends, has an 18-year collection with approximately 1,000 forms of Santa Claus inside her home.
“It started with this little guy in 1994,” smiles Victoria as she fondly holds a small wooden handcrafted Santa.
Victoria and her husband went to visit family in Tennessee who took them on a tour of Loretta Lynn’s ranch in Hurricane Mills. Many of the gift shops boast handcrafted souvenirs by the legendary country singer.
“I saw this one little lonely Santa,” Victoria said. “I just had to have him. So my husband bought him for me.” The wooden figurine was carved by a craftsman on the ranch, but handpainted by Lynn.
On the following Christmas, Victoria vowed to give that first Santa some company. Thus began a lifelong acquisition of Santas.
Pick a type of material or surface, and Victoria and Robert Flores probably have a Santa to fit. They are stuffed, grace pillows and are painted on wood, metal and plastic.
There are wall hangings too numerous too count. But perhaps the two most original are the colorfully painted brick with Santa’s likeness and the bowling pin. There is clothespin Santa and one that is a cookie jar.
“This is my Latino Santa,” says Victoria Flores as she flips a switch that has Santa playing a guitar and singing “Feliz Navidad.”
Robert Flores works for High Desert Auction in Apple Valley. He doesn’t take much credit for adding to the collection, despite starting it all with that initial purchase.
“A lot of them come up in auction, especially when you are liquidating a house,” he said. “When I find something that is different I bring it home.”
There are tiny Santas that look to be about an inch tall and a tall one they call “Big Boy” that is almost 4 feet. A Santa wall clock chimes on the hour. There is a Santa riding a chicken and another paddling a canoe.
After Christmas, when other shoppers are looking for sales on clothes and appliances, Victoria Flores starts shopping for more Santas.
When asked if there is any order to her decorating, Victoria Flores responded that it just depends on what she pulls out of that first box. And there are too many boxes to count.
“I have seven antique trunks full of Santas,” Victoria Flores said. “They are stored in toy chests, suitcases and boxes.”
Interestingly, the décor stops at their bedroom door.
“That is the only bedroom, the master one, that still needs Santas,” Victoria Flores said.
She could easily extend the existing collection out to the bedroom, but Victoria Flores feels she needs some new Santas to add there.
She usually gets started decorating in early November. At the end of the holiday season, it takes her about a month to get them all packed away.
“He’s a happy Santa now,” says Victoria Flores, pointing to her first wooden figurine. “He’s got lots of company now.”