— RIVERSIDE – Santa Claus on a bicycle. Santa Claus in a bathtub. Santa Claus in Penn State football jersey.
These are just some of the pieces in the Santa Claus collection of Riverside’s Sherry Betts, who has been collecting memorabilia of Jolly Old Saint Nick for the past 30 years.
“There’s got to be close to 500” items, she said. These include statues, ornaments, figurines, rugs and models hand-made by relatives. “I have a niece who comes at Christmas who counts them every year … She never gets through them.”
“I think she’s got about everything that has Santa,” said husband Bob Betts.
The Santas come out every Christmas time at the Betts house on Avenue D, and the collection grew slowly over several years. “I always liked them. I just picked up a few little ones” here and there, Sherry Betts said, and relatives and friends began gifting her more. It’s Santa’s connection to Christmas and the holiday season that she likes most.
The start of the collection was a set of Penn State Santa Claus figures, all in different PSU attire. They are all part of a line released by the college that has since been discontinued. “I have them all but number one” in the series, Sherry Betts said. They sit in a glass display case in the Betts living room, which is crowded with Santa figures both inside the case and resting on top of it.
Sherry Betts’ Santa stash has grown over the years, and though she still is very much a fan of the jolly old elf she’s near the end of her collecting days. Relatives have asked her recently if she wants any more. “I tell them no more Santas, I have nowhere else to put them.”
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