900 Santas

Mike and Beverly Mislan just might have the largest collection of Santas around. Approximately 900 fill their home during the holidays.

By Kim Jansen

News Report Staff

Santa Claus reminds us each year of the magic the Christmas season brings.

Whether he goes by Santa, Kris Kringle or Father Christmas, no one knows for sure.

But one thing is for sure.

Santa Claus teaches us to be nice and sets an example of giving selflessly to family, friends, neighbors and those in need.

Santa holds a special place in many hearts, especially in the hearts of Mike and Beverly Mislan, of Effingham.

The couple has around 900 Santa Claus figures and collectibles displayed throughout their home.

“They are all so different,” said Beverly of the collection. “I love their faces and how they are all so unique.”

“We love having them out and looking at them, and all of their differences,” said Mike. “You have to just look at one spot for a while to take in how many are really there.”

The collection is more than just a celebration of the holiday. It holds memories of Mike’s mother, Marguerite, who loved Santa and Christmas time.

Around 800 of the Santas in the collection were Marguerite’s, and after she died, the couple decided they wanted to continue the tradition of the collection.

“When she died, they didn’t know what to do with all of the Santas, and I told them that I wanted them,” said Beverly. “We didn’t want to have a garage sale, and I said I would like to have all the Santas. So, that is how we got all of the Santas.”

Although Mike remembers some of the collection from his childhood, much of the collection was acquired after Marguerite moved to Florida in the 1970s.

“It is mostly her collection,” said Mike. “When she moved to Florida, she started collecting a whole lot more down there. She lived by herself, and she had all of these in her little, tiny block house, and they were out year around.”

Mike added his mother loved looking for Santas to add to her collection.

“She loved Santas, and every time she saw a Santa, she would buy it to add to her collection,” he said. “For us, we wanted to keep them as a memory to her.”

The Mislans have received other Santas to add to the collection, many of which have been received as gifts from those who know about the collection.

“Everyone who knows about it has been giving them to us ever since we got it,” said Mike.

The Santas on display in the Mislan home are of all shapes and sizes. Some are as small as a pebble and others are almost life-size.

Santas are placed on the tops of furniture, hang from greenery, fill cabinets in each room and are displayed in every area on the main level of the home.

“We have put them out 15 of the last 16 years, but this year might be the last year for them,” said Mike, who added as the couple ages, the collection has become more difficult to get out of storage and to put out for display.

The Santas are separated into categories and are stored based on those categories. But it stil takes the couple working each day for a month, sometimes longer, to get everything ready for the season.

Although they do not receive too many visitors during the holidays, those who have seen the collection are always amazed by the number of Santas.

“People come over and go, ‘Wow!” said Mike. “It is just really neat.”

With Mike celebrating his 70th birthday this month, this may be the last time the couple displays the collection.

“We decided to have one last hoorah with them,” said Mike, adding he hopes the tradition will continue. “I hope it will be passed down, but we don’t know.”

Beverly added, “We hope someone will want them.”

As far as their favorite Santas, Beverly loves the faces and is drawn to the different expressions of each Santa.

As for Mike, he said it was easy to choose his favorite.

“My favorite piece is the last one I put in the box and carry out to the garage each year,” he said with a laugh.