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Finding Minnesota: Front Yard Santa

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(credit: CBS) Mike Binkley
Mike Binkley has been covering Minnesota news for more than 25 year...
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ST. BONIFACIUS, Minn. (WCCO) — Santa Claus is well-known for making house calls on Christmas Eve, but there’s one Minnesota neighborhood where Santa greets kids for an entire month.

He has a homemade workshop in Kelley Archer’s front yard at 4124 Elmwood Circle in St. Bonifacius.

Archer is a retired 1st Sergeant with the U.S. Army who has been welcoming children to Santa’s Workshop since 1996.

“It makes my night,” he said. “Their eyes get huge and they’re so excited.”

For the kids, it’s a close encounter with someone who inspires wonder. There’s rarely a wait and never a charge to have your photo taken with this Santa.

Archer heard children’s wishes for several years, working as a mall Santa. He learned not to promise things like live pets.

“Santa can’t carry them in the sleigh,” he said, “no money, and (Santa) can’t bring mom and dad back together.”

But from all the heartfelt letters he’s kept, Archer knows Santa does bring hope.

“Brings back tears,” he said. “I’m sentimental.”

It’s why Archer spends hundreds of dollars expecting nothing in return. He wants Santa to have just the right look, making just the right impression. He wants young visitors to believe.

“What I did this for was, not everybody can afford those pictures or want to wait in line at the malls,” he said. “It’s just something that I want to do to give back to the kids.”

These appearances in St. Bonifacius only happen on certain days in December, during specific hours.

Here’s the remaining schedule for 2013:

Monday, 12/16: 6:00-7:30 PM
Wednesday, 12/18 6:00-7:30 PM
Friday, 12/20 6:00-7:30 PM
Sunday, 12/22 5:30-7:00 PM
Monday, 12/23 6:00-7:30 PM
Tuesday, 12/24 11:00AM-1:30 PM

Address:
Front Yard Santa
4124 Elmwood Circle
St. Bonifacius, Minn. 55375

If you have Finding Minnesota ideas, you can submit them here.

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