Ho-ho-holy moly: Cranbury couple has quite a Santa collection (With multiple photos)

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By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
As a child, Jane Elias was not a fan of Santa Claus, but her feelings changed in a big way as she got older.
She and her husband, Bill, have a large collection of Santa Claus-themed memorabilia that the Cranbury couple started collecting about 50 years ago and display in their home.
“Then, little by little, it kind of just grew,” she said of a collection numbering in the hundreds. “At this point, we have about two hundred Santa Clauses of varying sizes from an inch to four feet.”
Elias, president of the Cranbury Woman’s Club, explained her interest in Santa Claus by saying she loved Christmas, even though as an only child growing up, she did not like Santa Claus. But then something changed.
“And all a sudden, I just took this liking to Santa Claus. Nothing happened, I just started liking him,” she said.
Through the years, the couple have added to their memorabilia collection at “various and different places,” Bill Elias said. The Santa-themed items are not super expensive, but when Jane Elias sees something, she buys it.
“My husband’s theory is if you see it and you like it, you buy it fast because if you go back later, it may not be there,” she said.
Their Santa collection includes such things as figurines, a fireplace screen with Santa on it and bowls and mugs; the couple even have items with Santa Claus playing golf and laying on the beach.
“We have all different kinds of things,” she said. “We have some that were much more expensive than others.”
After Thanksgiving, the couple start displaying their collection, and leave it up until the first week of January.
“At one point, it was probably larger because we had a big display of houses,” said Bill Elias of the collection. “And when we moved here …, we had to get rid of some of the things. So we did a downturn and then an upturn.”
When it comes time to put them away for the season, each item has to be stored in individual boxes, Bill Elias said. The collection is kept in the couple’s home, he said, in what is a project unto itself.
“It’s a lot of work,” she said, “because they then all have to be packed up and put up in the attic again.”