A 'Mrs Santy' enchanted Christmas display

MRS SANTY: Nola York in one of the three rooms she spends months decorating with thousands of Christmas toys, decorations, Santas and trees.
MRS SANTY: Nola York in one of the three rooms she spends months decorating with thousands of Christmas toys, decorations, Santas and trees. Belinda Scott

'MRS SANTY' is the spirit of the Christmas season in the village of Glenreagh.

Nola York turns three front rooms of her house in Glenreagh's main street into a magical Christmas wonderland every December.

The town's long-closed bakery shop becomes a series of enchanted caves sparkling with moving toys, multicoloured lights, Santa Claus figures, angels, Christmas trees, reindeer, festive tables and Christmas decorations.

This is not just a static or even purely mechanical display - Mrs Santy inhabits her Christmas rooms, dressed in seasonal red and white, from the time she opens her display in early December, until after Christmas.

As soon as it gets dark she switches on the lights and sets the toys in motion, braving heat, soreness and fatigue and sacrificing outings so that others can enjoy her display every night.

"You don't know where people have come from - how far they've come" Nola said.

As she speaks, cars draw up and children tumble out to press their noses against the glass and exclaim about their favourite toys on display - a reindeer in a rocking chair; another doing the Twist; a Santa with a spinning rainbow nose; the dancing Christmas tree, the tiny racing cars or the climbing elves.

Nola says she has always loved everything about Christmas.

She created her window display almost 20 years ago to help raise money for Coffs Harbour's oncology ward, where her late husband Ron York was treated for cancer.

"They were absolutely marvellous and I'll never forget it," Nola said.

Since then she has raised many thousands of dollars for the service.

She never counts the money raised, but simply hands over the donation tin for counting and banking.

Last year's tin yielded more than $1100

Her friend Bessie Webb said Glenreagh residents and groups supported Nola, who in turn works for others through the year.

The Christmas display has grown as she has collected and been gifted toys, some even from overseas.

Nola begins unpacking and setting up the display in October and after New Year the carefully-packed away display items decorations go back to their own storage shed.

This year Nola, who is almost 81, plans a shorter season for the display and says she will probably switch off the lights on December 27 or 28.

Nola will spend Christmas day at a large family party hosted by her youngest daughter.

Her Christmas gift wish?

"I love plants - I If I get a plant or a Bunnings gift voucher I'll be happy."

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