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Santa visits the Shell Factory
November 29, 2017

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There's something about Southwest Florida that always brings Santa Claus here, but it isn't the warm weather.

Rather, it's the warm people who meet him everywhere he goes, and the goodness in their hearts. He can honestly say there is nobody he knows that are not on his good list.

On Saturday, Santa made the first of his visits to the Shell Factory's Christmas House, meeting with as many little boys and girls as two hours will allow before having to return to the North Pole to get ready for the big day.

"I really look forward to coming to the Shell Factory because I have a lot of little friends down here and even some non-human friends, and I love them all," Santa said. "Down here everyone is so happy and everybody is so nice. I haven't met anyone I've had to put on my naughty list."

Santa always has a caveat for the children: While he can't guarantee he will be able to deliver everything or exactly what they want, he will get them something they will love.

He passed out candy canes, instructing the children to hand them out to each other and their parents as a way to teach the joy of giving.

Ashley Ermisch and her family came from North Dakota for Thanksgiving with her aunt and the opportunity to meet Santa.

"I love it here. It's a little warmer than North Dakota. They loved seeing Santa Claus," said Ermisch, before asking her daughter, Abby, 8, what she wanted.

Abby answered she didn't know.

"I want a puppy," Ermisch said. "I never got one when I was a kid."

Most of those Santa met were babies and toddlers, some of whom were a little scared of Jolly St. Nick. But there were also small dogs Santa had the pleasure of meeting, and the pictures everyone took with Santa didn't cost a dime.

In an area nearby to Santa, kids sat at a table to write letters to Santa on what they want for Christmas. That is what Maddy Rumbarger, 5, and Sophia Carter, 9, of Fort Myers were doing, although they got to meet Santa a few minutes later.

More than 500 letters to Santa have already been written by young boys and girls, and all of them have been answered.

Once Santa left, it was the Holiday House that got the attention, which is now bigger than ever, with more collectibles and ornaments than it has ever had.

Most of those collectibles were on sale, and they were also selling gift cards where, if you bought a $100 gift card, you got a $20 bonus card.

But Santa still has much to do with the success of the holidays, and his annual return is something everyone looks forward to.

"It's been fantastic. We had the busiest weekend we've had in years and it started today with a bang," said Anne Sheridan, general manager of the Shell Factory. "Everyone loves him and comes back for him. We have people call us to see if he's coming. He's been coming here for four years and we love him."

Santa at the Shell Factory

Santa will be at The Shell Factory Dec. 3, 9, 16, 17, 22, and 23 from 10 a.m.-noon

The Shell Factory and Nature Park is at 2787 N. Tamiami Trail (US 41), North Fort Myers.

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