ROCK SPRINGS — The Marguerite Santa will again be at the Rock Springs Historical Museum in his traditional spot in front of the firehouse doors. Viewers can stop and watch the small mechanical Santa play Christmas music on the pipe organ every evening from 7:30-8:45 through December 25 just like he did at Marguerite’s Gift Shop years ago.
This year, Santa is surrounded by toys from days gone by, metal roller skates, radio flyer sleds, baseballs and boxing gloves, dolls of all shapes and sizes. Board games and cards games, jacks, tiddlywinks, marbles and pickup sticks. Visitors can press their noses to the glass and pick out which special items they hope to see under the tree this year.
Behind the toys are a group of moving Santas, carolers and angels, each welcoming the holiday season with their bright candles and charming movements. On either side of the scene are houses with all the trappings from a winter village, complete with trees, people and benches to sit on.
The Marguerite Santa has been fascinating children and adults alike since he was first put on display in Marguerite Parker Galicich’s North Front Street Gift Shop window in 1946 or 1947. Stories differ whether Marguerite’s husband, Albert Galicich, bought the Santa in New York while on leave during the Second World War, or if it was purchased in Denver after he returned home. Either way, for 30 years, until Christmas 1977, children lingered at Marguerite’s to see the little velvet clad Santa whenever they were downtown.
Marguerite’s Gift Shop closed in the spring of 1978 and the Santa went into storage. He reappeared in 1980 in Carmen Berta’s antique shop here in Rock Springs for a brief encore before moving to Hurricane, Utah. Mrs. Berta, her husband Rusty, daughter Wendy and son in law Bob Sines took care of the Santa in his new home for many years. In 1994 the Marguerite Santa made a one season only return visit to the Rock Springs Historical Museum before retiring back into Berta’s care.
Finally, in 2007 the Santa returned to Rock Springs, and now makes his permanent home at the Museum. He has a regular schedule to appear every year in December, much to the delight young and old alike!
This year in light of the need for social distancing Museum staff and volunteers have created a display that can be enjoyed by everyone in the community. Visitors can only see “The Marguerite Santa and Friends” through the Fire Station bay windows located on Broadway Street. The display will be available for the public to view 24 hours a day through January 6, 2021.