BOONVILLE – Down Ava Road in Boonville, you can find a little place called Kringleville, and a couple who know the real magic behind Santa Claus.
Bonnie Williams and Vernon Phillips opened Kringleville last year, but Phillips has been Santa Claus for 56 years. âI have been Ms. Claus for 16 years,â said Williams.
The couple had toured the community before, selling their homemade corn while playing the roles of Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. Phillips said Kringleville was started as a way to cut part of this trip and let people come to them and “… enjoy the decorations and a cup of hot chocolate.”
Kringleville comes from a friend of Phillips’ who played one of Santa’s helpers, who sadly passed away at age 47. âWe named it Kringleville in his honor,â said Phillips.
It doesn’t take much to make Phillips look like Old Saint Nick, and with 56 years playing Santa, Phillips has a few stories close to his heart.
âThere are a lot of stories, but there is one child, in particular, many years ago who had Santa’s heart,â he said. “And from that day forward, I was Santa Claus.”
Phillips went to a school to play Santa Claus for a mixed class of disabled children for a teacher friend.
The day did not start ideally.
âI was wearing a cheaper outfit at the time and my Santa Claus pants got ripped,â he said. “And a little boy screamed ‘You ripped your pants, Santa!’ and I got up and turned around, and everybody saw I had another pair of pants under the red pants.
It made everyone in the class laugh, which helped break the ice. Phillips sat down and asked the class who wanted to sit with Santa Claus first.
âThis little boy shouted out loud, ‘I’m doing Santa Claus! “And I told him to come tell me what he wanted for Christmas,” Phillips said.
Unbeknownst to Phillips, the little boy who called had paralysis in his arms and legs. The boy’s father helped him get off the chair and let the boy crawl on the floor to Santa Claus.
âHe had his head held high and all he wanted was to see Santa Claus,â Phillips said. “I leaned over and hugged him and said ‘My, what a strong little boy you are.'”
After the boy told Santa his Christmas wish, Phillips picked it up and brought it back to his chair.
The whole experience impacted Phillips, and he continued to wish and pray for the child and hoped that he could one day walk again.
The following year, Phillips attempted to locate the child, but he had been transferred to another school.
“Many years later, I was working as Santa Claus for the Salmon Run Mall in Watertown, and the last day I was supposed to be there a little boy approached me with leg braces on,” he said. said Phillips. “And I recognized him.”
And again, Phillips picked it up – the braces and everything – and set it on his lap.
Phillips has spent 56 years spreading the magic of Santa Claus to children around the world. âThey are the reason I always do this,â he said.
Although Phillips was not sure if he could continue after recently suffering from congestive heart failure.
âI didn’t think I was going to be here, but there was some kind of miracle. The man above is not ready for me yet, âhe said. Just an hour after a call to let Williams know he was not doing well, medics called back to tell him he was breathing on his own and is doing well. âI just had a date the other day and I’m fine.
Phillips said Kringleville didn’t get a lot of attention last year, but the community has started to find and visit them.
âWe just want to make it a nice place for people to have fun,â he said.
Kringleville is located at 7777 East Ava Road in Boonville and is open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Christmas light shows start around 5 p.m. and are choreographed to different Christmas carols.
For more information, contact Bonnie Williams on Facebook or email [email protected]