From the mid-1950s until 1980, Leggett’s Department Store at 1015 Main Street in Downtown Lynchburg installed a mechanical Santa in a sleigh with eight moving reindeer on the front canopy. Many Lynchburg residents remember it as part of the holiday traditions in Downtown. The Santa was donated by Tom and Marilyn Jenkins in 2013.
Looking for a way to document that this was the real Leggett’s Santa, Museum Director Doug Harvey contacted Gordon Leggett whose family operated the chain of stores. Last Christmas, Gordon came to the Museum and verified that it was the real one and remembered helping assemble the display over the years. He noted, “The Santa turned and waved, and the reindeer moved up and down. Sometimes the brackets that held the reindeer became loose, and the reindeer would jump down into Main Street! I was always worried they were going to hit someone.”
Leggett’s Department Store operated on Main Street from 1927 until 1980 when it moved to River Ridge Mall. The chain was later bought by Belk. The Santa will remain on display through January 31, 2015.
The Museum is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. For information, call 455-6226 or visit www.lynchburgmuseum.org
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