No more ho, ho, ho, Santas must go

SANTAS won’t be lining the streets of Wodonga’s High Street shopping strip this Christmas.

But anyone who fancies having one of the decorations in their front yard will get the chance at a clearing sale next week.

After 30 years the Lions Club of Wodonga has bowed out of the Santa display business, which has raised more than $150,000 for charity.

For the past four years the Santas have been put up on shop awnings by the city’s Apex Club.

But Apex told Lions it had decided against a fifth year due to public liability and occupational health and safety concerns.

Club secretary Harold Cover said Lions members agreed the risk was too great.

He said the awning- sitting Father Christmases were hired out for $60 each, with money raised distributed to the Wodonga branches of the Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul and UnitingCare though Lions’ Spirit of Christmas program.

“It means we’ll now be working harder in other areas to raise that money,” Mr Cover said.

Six years ago Wodonga Council wanted the club to replace the decorations with large window stickers.

But the club argued the Santas were a Wodonga institution and the stickers would not have generated the same income.

About 80 Santas will be up for grabs at the sale on December 1.

The club has already sold 12 Santas to the Coles store at Lavington and another dozen will go to shops at Tallangatta.

Mr Cover said it was sad to see the Santas go.

“They have been rather unique for Wodonga for many years,” he said.

“In the early days the Santas used to be installed in the early hours of the morning.

“About 30 years on the same members are now in their 60s or 70s and it’s much harder to do.”

Occupational health and safety concerns were behind Lavington Lions’ decision to abandon its Santas in 2003, while the Albury club sold off its Dean Street signs in 2000.

The club’s storage shed is behind the State Emergency Service building on Victoria Cross Parade, with the sale to start at 9am.

Anyone who would like to buy a Santa for $100 before the sale can call Mr Cover on 0408 901 606.

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