The jolly, big man hobbled arm in arm in the cold with Mrs. Claus to the warmth of his Norwalk home. Inside, the line of children and adults extended almost to the door.
Multi-colored lights, wreaths and an oversized wrapped present adorned with red and blue lights decorated the home on Main Street in Norwalk. A model train chugged by on tracks inside near a fireplace.
Beads of sweat marked Santa's forehead - he'd been walking quite a way wearing long johns after his sleigh landed in Norwalk. As if that weren't bad enough, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer kicked him after being told reindeer couldn't stay in Norwalk with Ol' Saint Nick.
Santa found sanctuary in his home.
The home, built especially for Santa by Norwalk businessman Stan Obrenovich, was one of the attractions Saturday during Light Up Norwalk, an annual city event to ring in the holidays. There were games for children, horse carriage rides, a showing of the movie "Elf" at the Norwalk Theatre and a tree-lighting ceremony at night. Even Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland paid a visit to the Maple City. (See story, also on Pg. 1)
While Strickland and congressional candidate Robin Weirauch visited with residents by the courthouse, Santa rested across the street in his home. He sat next to 4-year-old Trenton Goostree, who told told Santa how much he'd like a wrestling-related toy.
Trenton's favorite wrestler?
"He's a mean guy, isn't he?" Santa asked Trenton.
"Yeah, I know," the little boy said.
Trenton, who resembles a younger version of teenage actor and "Sixth Sense" star Haley Joel Osment, flashed a smile that showed his teeth as he and Santa discussed wrestling.
Trenton mentioned another wrestler.
"He's on my naughty list; I don't like him," Santa responded.
Apparently, Santa didn't think Trenton was naughty this past year as Santa gave the boy a coloring book and suckers.
What did 4-year-old Nate Pigman want for Christmas? A metal detector, a workshop and a crashed up speedway, he said.
And his 2-year-old sister, Natalie?
She wouldn't say.
Saturday marked their 5-month-old cousin Dylan's first visit with Santa. His father, Derek, tried to guess what Dylan might want.
"Anything he can put in his mouth," Derek said.
Derek Pigman complimented Santa's home.
"Everything's organized," he said.
Natalie and Nate's grandmother, Ruth, said she remembered waiting in the freezing cold to enter Santa's former home in Pohl's Park, also uptown. She said she bundled up expecting the same this year. But she heard through the grapevine about Santa's new home and brought her grandchildren.
As Ruth Pigman waited in line with them, she spotted the model train.
"Oh, Natalie they have a train," she said. "You're going to love this train."
Something strange happened soon after. Santa hadn't gotten up from his chair, but he was spotted outside, a few doors down from his house.
"Boy, Santa moves fast," a passerby said.
FOR YOUR INFO
Santa will be in his house the next three weekends from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.