Mr. and Mrs. Claus are coming back to Lansing, thanks to the efforts of volunteers and village government.
Santa House, a place where kids can visit Santa and Mrs. Claus, was a landmark in Lansing for over 50 years. It’s been absent since 2013.
Work on a new, permanent location near the corner of Randolph and Henry streets near downtown Lansing is finishing this week and a ribbon cutting will take place to open Santa House at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The project was overseen by volunteer Lansing resident John Cole, a retired custom woodworker, general contractor and construction project manager.
“I went to see (Village President Patty Eidam) to talk about it, drew up some plans and got the ball rolling,” Cole said. “I knew (having Santa House ready for Christmas) was one of the campaign promises she had made. So, it was in May or June that I went to see her.”
Eidam was elected in April. Cole was named the chair of a commission for the project soon after speaking with her.
He put hundreds of hours into Santa House.
“I felt it was an opportunity to build some relationships within the village,” Cole said. “I knew there were a number of people, other than (Eidam), that wanted to see this happen.”
Cole wasn’t the only one to give his time. Almost all of the labor, planning and materials were donated by residents or local businesses.
“I had the chance to meet a lot of wonderful people,” Cole said. “Just to see the people in the village of Lansing step up and volunteer to do this, that or the next thing on the project was very gratifying. The village really came together and worked toward the end that we are now seeing.”
Village spokesman Ken Reynolds said Santa House will come at no cost to the village after donations reimburse the original cost.
The new building is all brick with wood paneling inside.
“It’s a better environment for Santa,” Cole said.
Lansing’s first Santa House, a portable one, opened in 1962. A permanent building in the parking lot of the former Village Hall at 3404 Lake St. was built in 1975 but torn down in 2013 when Visible Music College leased the former Village Hall.
The new 18-foot by 16-foot building could have other village uses outside of the holiday season, Cole said. He suggested public works or even just storage.