Craig Christmas Display reveals Santa’s secret
CRAIG — Almost 50 years ago, a Craig man figured out how to help Santa climb roofs that were too steep to set a sleigh upon.
A wooden reindeer uses a pulley system, powered by a small motor, to hoist the jolly elf up to the rooftops.
The whimsical display, built by Joe Skufca, has delighted generations of Craig families, and after a hiatus of several years, it’s back on display, this time at the Hatten home at 827 Exmoor Circle.
“I am so excited,” said Joanna Hatten. “When I was a kid, my mom would drive us up by the Sandrocks every year, so we could see this. It truly was one of my favorite Christmas memories.”
Hatten isn’t the only one to have warm memories of the display. After posting a photo on Facebook, more than 200 people liked the post, and dozens of current and former residents commented, including Craig Realtor Sandra King, who wrote, “memories from my childhood. Love this.”
Generations of Craig families have visited the display, Sally Seilaff Rollins posted on Hatten’s Facebook age, “First year I was married, my mother-in-law took me to see this; my kids loved it too. Glad to see it displayed again.”
The display was originally made by Scufka, who was born and raised in the Yampa Valley. He was an electrician and raised his own family in Craig.
He put the decoration up every Christmas for more than 40 years.
“No matter how cold it was, he was out there putting it up,” said daughter Teresa Smith.
The family lived in a two-story house at the corner of Green and West Ninth streets, next to the Bird Residence — winners of the 2017 Holiday Tour of Lights contest.
And similar to the Bird’s holiday display, Skufca’s display won many of the annual holiday decorating competitions.
“He was really proud of it,” Smith said.
It was so well-known that, even when Santa wasn’t on display, “we lived in the Santa house,” Smith said.
Santa didn’t always stay put.
“I remember when someone kidnapped Santa, then felt bad and brought him back,” wrote Brad King on Hatten’s Facebook post. “Wasn’t me; I just remember.”
The iconic decoration remained in Craig until 2002, when Skufca and his wife, Ruth, moved to the Denver area. Skufca continued to put it up every year until 2008, when cancer left him without the energy to handle the task. He died May 16, 2010, at age 78.
Since her father’s death, Smith, who lives in a one-story house, has found it difficult to continue the tradition. This year, she lent the display to Hatten and her family.
“Christmas, it’s my favorite holiday,” Hatten said. “I would beg my mom to go look at it. It disappeared for along time. Then, I stumbled upon it when my neighbor, Teresa Smith, set it back up a few years ago”
When Smith happened to visit Hatten Enterprises, Joanna asked to purchase the display. But memories of her father make it to0 valuable to let go, so the women settled on a loan that allows the Hattens to once again display Skufca’s creation for all to see.
Getting it ready took Joanna Hatten’s husband, Kelly, her son and a friend a full day. They spent time at the old Skufca home, measuring anchor points still set in the lawn and on the roof to ensure the ropes would be perfectly positioned in the new location.
They were able to use all the original parts of Skufca’s display, said Kelly Hatten.
The old ropes creak faintly as Santa is raised up and down on the pulley.
“Finally, I’m able to show it to my children. I didn’t know until I posted a photo of it on Facebook that it wasn’t just me who enjoyed seeing it every year,” Joanna said. “Every night, I can walk outside, and there are two or three cars.”
Skufca’s creation will be on display at the Hatten house until after the first of the year.
The Hatten’s will store it and display it each year until Smith, or the Skufca family, wish to have it returned.
“It will always have a home. I want to thank Teresa. It’s very generous of her to allow us to put it up,” Joanna Hatten said. “Come out and enjoy it.”
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.
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