Santa Claus comes to Holly Rood

Published 9:36 am Friday, December 22, 2023

Currently, Clark County Preschool is conveniently located next to Holly Rood at 28 Beckner Street.

On Friday, Dec. 15th, the close proximity guaranteed that a holiday tradition continued.

Various children from Clark County Preschool visited the historic home – constructed in 1813 for former Kentucky Governor James Clark and his wife – to see Santa Claus as Christmas drew nearer.

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“This is my favorite thing that we do at Holly Rood. We do it every year,” said curator Debbie Barnes. “Some of these kids are actually used to us…they [have] so much energy.”

The idea for preschool children, ages three through five, to attend Holly Rood for a visit with Santa Claus first came up via Steve Justice, who serves as the president of the Clark County-Winchester Heritage Commission.

“We just thought that it would be a great idea to have Santa here and have the preschool come up. We just contacted the preschool, and they said, ‘We’d love to do that,’” Justice said. “I think [in] a lot of cases it’s the only time some of these kids get to see Santa Claus…We all just get a real big kick out of it!”

With 270 students enrolled at Clark County Preschool and attendance typically over 90% when the opportunity to visit Santa Claus arises, classrooms were brought in at different times and in an orderly fashion throughout the day.

While some children were willing to engage with Santa, others were more hesitant, and many dressed up for the holidays.

Several students wore mixtures of red, green, and other typical holiday colors, while one was even adorned with suspenders and a bow tie.

Each student who visited Santa was also gifted with a coloring book and crayons, with many utilizing the gifts before leaving for the day.

Chad Walker, owner of The Engine House Pizza Pub, was present to help make the day special.

Fortunately, the diverse student body of Clark County Preschool could be served.

Norma Mack-Coyle, a Spanish interpreter with the school, works with bilingual students and others who speak predominantly Spanish.

She was excited at the opportunity to make her students’ Christmas special.

“My job [is] to help them learn faster, and every day I pull them out from class…[and] I help them with the language,” Mack-Coyle said. “They care…I do my job, and they are prepared for kindergarten.”

Acknowledging that students with different needs attended Clark County Preschool, Principal Jillian Blanton also expressed gratitude to Holly Rood.

“They’re very understanding of the population that we serve”, she said. “They are very compassionate and understanding no matter what comes their way.”

While the location of Clark County Preschool will change shortly, Justice expressed hope that future collaboration will continue.

“We’re hoping we can do it when the new preschool gets here,” he said.