JOLLY MILL — This weekend, visitors will have a way to visit Santa Claus while in a historic place.
The annual Old-Fashioned Jolly Mill Christmas Open House will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with Santa Claus available from 7-8:30 p.m. nightly at the mill. The historic mill is located on the eastern side of Newton County. The park is located west of Monett on Highway 60, south on County Road 1010, west on County Road 2025.
Refreshments will be provided. Organizers will take photos using a Polaroid-style film, but the visitors can also bring their own cameras for this unique event.
"We have been doing this since the late 1980s," said Piper Price with the Jolly Mill Foundation, which puts on the event.
"The main purpose is just to offer something back to the community. Part of the mission of Jolly Mill is that it is a historical place, while it is privately owned, it should provide the public with information about the rich American history in this area regarding mills. It is totally free to the public."
Some of the trees and windows in the mill will be decorated, to welcome the visitors. Refreshments range from cookies to cheese to apple cider, coffee, and hot chocolate, just in time for the season.
As Santa Claus arrives, the children will have their pictures taken with him. Children are welcome to bring an ornament for Santa's tree.
"Every year, we always offer an invite for kids to bring their own handmade ornaments with their name or whatever for Santa's tree," she said. "For several years, we got nothing, they were dwindling and in the last two or three years, we kind of made a push again and Santa's tree is just full."
Some Pierce City High School students helped decorate the tree and found some of their old ornaments they gave Santa years ago.
Price said attendance is in the hundreds annually.
"We always keep about 400 candy canes and between the two days, we usually go through 400 candy canes," she said. "And if you assume that each child has one or two parents, over the two days, we will normally, I assume we will have 800-some visitors come through in two days."
This event is two-fold: it gives a chance for the community to come out, see the mill and the children have their pictures taken with Santa Claus, and it helps others during the Christmas season.
"We do have a place for where people can give donations, but we use all of the donations in that donation box to help some child or family of a child in the Pierce City area that is not going to have a good Christmas," she said.
Page 2 of 2 - Price noted that in the past, she has spoken to Santa and Mrs. Claus about their thoughts for coming to Jolly Mill.
"Mr. and Mrs. Claus, I can tell you personally having spoken to them, they love coming to Jolly Mill, it makes them feel at home," Price said. "It makes them feel at home, it makes them feel like this is not so modern, they love the modern part, but they love feeling the old fashioned part too and they love being here for that and to see the wonderful children that come to visit them on Friday and Saturday at Jolly Mill."
For more information, please call Price at 839-4070.