The traditional Santa Claus decorates the Austine School in Brattlboro.(Zachary P. Stephens/Brattleboro Reformer)
The traditional Santa Claus decorates the Austine School in Brattlboro. (Zachary P. Stephens/Brattleboro Reformer)
Monday December 24, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- Many people who grew up in Brattleboro, or around the area, remember fondly the huge Santa that appeared each year near Exit 2 of Interstate 91.

Recently, chatter began on FaceBook on the I Grew Up in Brattleboro page about their childhood memories of that Santa.

John Cummings said his parents, Robert and Thyra Cummings, built Santa in 1962, and Santa is now turning 50 years old. Santa was displayed on the back of their garage, two stories high, on Brattle Street.

Several years ago, the Cummings donated Santa to the Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Austine School) where it can now be seen during the holiday season. He says Santa is made in three big pieces, plus the arm. He remembers his parents sketching out the pattern which originally was a four-foot door decoration. They used a grid system to enlarge it.

Memories flowed as others remembered the Jolly Ol' Fellow on FaceBook. Here are some of those comments:

-- I remember it so well and always looked for it when traveling down the interstate. Merry Christmas!

-- We always looked for Santa when the children were small and still like to see him further down the road. Long live Santa.

-- Our dad would make a special trip on I-91 just

so we could see this! Great memory.

-- I remember Santa. Loved seeing him off the

highway.

-- Brattleboro landmark! A Brattleboro classic!

-- I enjoyed Santa, my children did, and now my grandchildren are!

-- I remember that! I always looked forward to seeing the giant Santa!!

--Ohhhhh the memories!

-- We always looked for it as kids and now our grandkids do when they come to visit!

-- We would take a drive on Sunday night just to see it.

-- Awesome! I loved seeing Santa every year when I was young!

-- As a kid I couldn't wait every year to see him !!

-- I used to look for this every year when we came to Vermont for Christmas!

--My family loved this. It just wouldn't have been Christmas without it. Great memory.

-- We've looked for that Santa ... forever! It was so nice to see he still makes his appearance at the Austine!!!

-- So looked forward to seeing this particular Santa my entire life growing up in Brattleboro. Glad that he's still alive and kicking.

-- I so remember this Santa, I always loved seeing it when I was a child

-- I love that Santa! He always brings a smile to my face.

-- Seeing Santa each year made me happy!

-- One of my favorite memories growing up in Brattleboro. True community is just this, a gift given from a family to other families to enjoy without personal gain.

-- That Santa was a part of thousands of children's Christmases including mine and my kids! Thanks to your family for donating it to the Austine School so that the tradition lives on!

-- Very fond memories of Santa!

-- That Santa was one of my favorite things when I was little. I used to lean against the door when we would go by so I could get a good look. Happy to see it at Austine now. What a wonderful gift!

-- Santa is up and still looking good.

-- YAYYY! Go Santa. And thank you Austine School.