10 Country: Cheryl Helps Santas - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Cheryl Helps Santas

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December 1, 2005

Albany-- Most of know that Santa Claus has come to town to find out what good little boys and girls want for Christmas, but few people know he needs a special helping hand.

Santa has a personal groomer to make sure he always looks good during a very busy schedule. She works at the Thronateeska Heritage Center and keeps a lot of Santa Clauses looking their best.

Cheryl Jones puts on while cotton gloves, holds a little brush and starts grooming the Santa Claus in a sleigh. Even though Santa stays put, dust finds him and the fur on his sleeve needs brushing. He needs a helping hand when he's on-the-road and away from Mrs. Claus.

Cheryl doesn't mind helping out. You could say she's Santa Claus's personal groomer. "For more than one Santa Claus," says Cheryl, as she brushes one of the Santa's white beards.

She takes care of a lot more than one. "There are 25-hundred Santa Clauses that I groom," says Cheryl as she dusts a wooden Santa about a foot tall. She makes sure 2,500 of them look spiffy during the holiday season in a Santa Claus exhibit at the Center. "You have to curl and fluff and straighten out," says Cheryl as she gently works with a Santa from the 1950s.

Santa Claus has an image to maintain. Cheryl practices safe cleaning, wearing white gloves to keep her natural skin oil from degrading their clothing. It takes her several days to make sure all of the Santa Clauses look the best they can, and when she finishes one round of cleaning, it's time to start over again.

During those hours of dusting, she gets up close and personal, finding that some appeal to her more than others. "I like the old fashioned Santas the best," says Cheryl. The ones with lots of hair and robes, fur and velvet, back when Santa Claus didn't look so plastic. "Look at this guy. He's made out of shells," says Cheryl.

Sure enough, the mouth is a sea shell, the nose another shell. She likes the handmade ones, too. "He's cute and kind of crafty, old fashioned, too," says Cheryl holding a Santa that looks like he is wearing pajamas. Santa Claus comes in all shapes and sizes like we do. "Have short fat ones and tall skinny ones," says Cheryl. One with a music box that plays "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Another plays "Jingle Bells" on an accordion.

Cheryl keeps 2,500 Santas looking their best for people to come and see that Santa Claus comes in a variety of shapes and colors. So, during Christmas perhaps we should realize that we can't make it alone, even if we were Santa Claus. We all could use a helping hand.

The Santa Claus exhibit continues through December at the Thronateeska Heritage Center. And, the Center will hold Breakfast with Santa between 8:30 and 10:30 on Saturday morning, December 3.

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