By Jen Bakken
DELANO, MN Santa with his white beard, red suit, and jolly “ho-ho-ho” holds a special place in the hearts of all children.
For a Delano family, there is another Santa who has been a special part of the family for generations.
He may be jolly with his white beard and red suit, but this Santa isn’t even 4 feet tall, and can’t deliver presents to anxious children.
It began as a fun father-son project. Art Ahlstrom and his father, Axel Ahlstrom, created the perfect holiday outdoor decoration.
Hand-cut and hand-painted, the wooden reindeer, sleigh, and Santa were initially displayed on the roof of the family home.
Handed down to Art Ahlstrom’s daughter, Lisa Lynch, the three generations of the Ahlstrom family have proudly displayed this one-of-a-kind decoration but this year, their Santa went missing in Delano.
Lisa’s husband, Jeff Lynch, put up the reindeer, sleigh, and Santa Nov. 22 in the front yard of their home located at 591 Country Lane.
“The wooden pieces are wired to poles, and I pounded them into the ground a couple feet,” said Jeff Lynch. “My 7-year-old son, Carson, woke up in the morning and said Santa was gone, pole and all. I couldn’t believe it.”
After Jeff dropped their two sons, Carson and Aiden, off at Sunday school, he drove around the neighborhood searching for Santa. He scoured ditches and a nearby pond, but Santa was nowhere to be found.
Axel Ahlstrom passed away almost five years ago, and his wife, Ella, is now in a nursing home. The family was hoping to take a picture of the Christmas display to give to her because it’s always been a special part of the family.
“Lisa is just crushed. We all are, and we just want Santa returned,” said Jeff Lynch. “No questions asked.”
Their Santa is described as standing with his hands up and wearing mittens. The family hopes he will be returned to their front yard just as quickly as he disappeared.
“I could wish that whoever took our Santa gets coal in their stocking this year,” Lynch said. “I could remind them that Santa is always watching and knows if you’ve been good or bad, but all I really want is for him to be returned.”