Saturday, Apr 19, 2014
Local News

Retired principal-turned-Santa offering free photo-ops


SEBRING - It's an old-fashioned "Country Christmas" in Dan Johnson's front yard, and if you have any doubts, just try to find the outhouse - brand new, of course - squatting on one side.

The longtime retired school district principal has decorated his front yard for Christmas for many years for people to enjoy and take pictures in.

This year, he's going a little further.

Johnson will dress up as Santa for six evenings for people who want to take family photos or just for kids who have something to tell the Jolly Old Man.

One perk - this Santa is probably the only local one with an antique one horse open sleigh for an authentic photo drop.

The sleigh is one of the many things he's accumulated over the years - from the old horse wagon that comes out every Christmas to the windmill, which graces his yard all year long.

"Every Christmas I do more," he smiled. "It's getting bigger and I'm getting older. I don't know how long I can keep continue doing this."

The center of the Christmas display is a big nativity scene.

There is an igloo made out of bubble-wrap, a Charlie Brown-themed Christmas setting, several versions of Santa flying on his sleigh with his reindeer team, including on the roof, and many other Christmas scenes.

A sign on one side, "Pictures, Welcome. Come On," greets people. Johnson got the idea of putting up the sign after he saw someone drive by his road, acting weird and furtive, about 10 years ago.

Johnson went inside and saw the driver come out and take pictures.

It dawned on him, he said, that the man was just waiting for him to leave his yard so he could snap some shots without seeming to trespass.

From then on, the sign came up, and the neighborhood is not the only one that waits for the expansive Christmas display. His children also check with him every year to make sure the Christmas decorations are in place.

Johnson will be playing Santa from 6 to 8 p.m. from Dec. 10-12 and from Dec. 17-19. He lives on 901 S. Egret St., in Sebring.


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