The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man of “Ghostbusters” fame has nothing on this Santa, who rises majestically each Christmas season on an elevated corner lot in Brighton Heights. Santa, or “Santazilla” as some neighbors have affectionately named the 40-foot-tall inflatable, portends the coming holiday and brings smiles to all who see him.
Santa owner Rick Fehl, along with sons Matt and Ryan and a few neighbors, has been hoisting the grand old man aloft each season since 2019.
Santa is “vintage just like me” says Fehl, when asked how old the grand behemoth is.
Son Matt found St. Nick hiding in Uniontown at an auction. On a whim he paid $50 for him and had no idea if there was still life in the old boy. But after some work, inflate he did. Patchwork aside, if he blows up, he goes up.
Neighbors look forward to seeing him command the corner of McClure and Kleber streets each holiday season. With spotlights trained on him he’s even more amazing at night, and if there’s a mist, well, it’s a full “Ghostbusters” experience.
Fehl and his wife, Diane, enjoy seeing the children who come to see him, and last year, a woman from Little Sisters of the Poor stopped to tell them that the residents of the nursing home up on the hill can see Santa from the dining room window.
The day he was put up, Laura Studebaker, along with young sons Nolan and Jackson, came to see him and get a picture taken. “We come visit him every year,” she says, with Jackson chiming in, “He is so big!”
“He spreads joy,” says Fehl, “and that’s why we do it. For the neighborhood.”