Santa Claus is scheduled to make appearances at the Log Cabin Village for winter events. Families may have their holiday picture taken at the Photos with St. Nicholas family event from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 3. Also they can see him during Holidays at the Hearth from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 18. But who is the man behind the beard?
Boyce Neufeldt volunteered to help by “being a Santa” so the village could have a fundraiser by providing Christmas photos at events. His first gig as St. Nick was in Mansfield, as a result of an idea his family gave him seven years ago.
“My grandkids said I should be a Santa because I had a beard,” Neufeldt said.
This year Neufeldt is also playing the part of Father Frost in the Nutcracker Ballet presented by Metropolitan Classical Ballet at University of Texas at Arlington.
Having been to the village a few times, he asked to be a part of a holiday fundraiser because he enjoyed the museum and wanted to help.
“I’m volunteering my time and I just want them to have a good fundraiser… they do a good job,” Neufeldt said. “I’m happy to be able to be of service.”
Log Cabin Village educator Rena Lawrence said this is the first year the village will have a St. Nick at an event.
“This year we’re very excited to have an old-time St. Nicholas… He’s got the older, more Victorian costume, not the modern Coca-Cola Santa,” Lawrence said.
In addition to the Photos with St. Nicholas event, Neufeldt will make an appearance in his red suit during the Holidays at the Hearth family event.
“What we like to do is not only give visitors a chance to experience some of the customs and traditions from the 19th century, but also it’s a nice time to escape that hectic nature of the holiday season,” Lawrence said. “It’s very quiet and peaceful out here, even on an event day, so we want to offer activities that will help people stop, slow down, reengage with their families but then also learn about the 19th century.”
Holidays at the Hearth features a number of activities. Visitors can make punched tin ornaments and embossed cards, which were popular during the 19th century. There will also be opportunities to string popcorn and make dessert tamales and pomander balls, which are scented oranges rolled with cloves and other spices.
“We will have Buttermilk Junction (an Old-Time String Band) and holiday music, and last year they even prepared song books so everyone could sing with them,” Lawrence said.
There will also be opportunities to see how other cultures on the frontier celebrated the holidays. Visitors will be able to play with a dreidel, eat chocolate geldt and learn about Winter Count.
“We’re trying to provide a cross cultural representation of life in 19th century Texas,” Lawrence said. “While most people celebrated Christmas, there were Jewish immigrant in Texas in the 19th century… We also have a little station talking about Winter Count, which is the Native American way of keeping track of the year with the use of bison hide.”
Neufeldt will be in the midst of all this as Santa Claus, interacting with the visitors, especially the children, as they learn about holiday traditions.
“I think kids are the greatest,” he said. “For the most part, they’re the most honest people around. They’ll tell you exactly what they think. I think as a Santa you hear that. They open up and it’s wonderful, even the meanest kids are nice.”
The cost for Photos with St. Nicholas is regular village admission plus a $5 fee for a photo and folder. Holidays at the Hearth also costs regular village admission plus a $2 craft fee to make a punched tin ornament. Regular village admission is $4 for ages 4 to 17 years and 65 years and older and $4.50 for ages 18 to 64. Children under 3 years are free.
For more information about the events, visit www.logcabinvillage.org or call 817-392-5881. The Log Cabin Village is located at 2100 Log Cabin Village Lane west of University Drive South, one block south of Colonial Parkway.