- Associated Press - Thursday, December 25, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The outside is decorated simply, with a lighted wreath, but inside is the true wonder.

At 85 years old, Zona Bring is still an energetic woman - with a very special collection. Her house is currently decorated with 72 Santa Clauses.

“(I’ve collected) since I was a little girl,” Bring said. “My grandmother got me my first one when I was four years old.”

The Santas are wood, plastic, stuffed, standing and hanging. The Christmas tree is covered with them. So are the stairs, and the floor space.

“Most dance or wiggle. But if I turn them on, I’m afraid I’ll blow out all of Bismarck,” Bring said.

Eight decades of collecting has made her collection grow.

“Every year something gets added,” Bring said. “I say ‘no,’ but when I go into the store and see the Santas, I have to have them.”

Eventually, people realized her love of Santas and started buying them for Bring as gifts.

“No two are alike,” Bring said. “They come from everywhere. And, you know, some of them I’ve gotten at garage sales.”

Bring starts decorating her house with Santa Clauses around Thanksgiving and decorates all by herself.

“It’s so much fun putting it up, but taking it down is kind of depressing,” Bring said.

Bring leaves her decorations up until the middle of January because she is busy entertaining.

“I love company,” Bring said. “Oh heavens, when you get to my age, it’s great-grandchildren and grandchildren and friends. And they just come.”

Bring’s relatives love her Santa Claus collection, she says.

“When we had my great-grandchildren over, the four-year-old sat on the top of the steps and looked down over the decorations,” Bring said. “And she says, ‘Great Grandma, this is Santa-land.’ And I say, ‘Yes it is, honey.’ To me, it’s really special.”

Other visitors to her house notice the decorations too.

“When my kitchen faucet was being naughty, the plumber came,” Bring said. “His assistant kind of just stood there, and said, ‘My goodness, you sure have stuff.’ And I do … I guess I’m just used to all of this.”

Bring’s church family turns out every year to see her decorations, and Bring prepares a luncheon for them.

“Zona is so energetic,” said Patsy Frey, one of Bring’s best friends. “She has no plans to leave this earth just yet. In her house, there are three flights of steps - 24 in total - and she climbs up and down them like it’s nothing.”

When it comes time to take down the decorations, Bring is thorough. She hand-wraps each Santa individually in two plastic bags and stacks them in the basement, Frey said.

Bring plans to keep decorating into the future because she enjoys it.

“There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind when they come in,” Bring said. “They know it’s Christmas.”

___

Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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