Did you know that there are only two Santa Claus Museums in the entire country, and one of them is right here in Texas. The Mary Elizabeth Hopkins Santa Claus Museum in Columbus, Texas is open to the public every Thursday, Friday and Saturday throughout the whole month of December, and admission is free.

Mary Elizabeth Youens Hopkins, born in 1913, was given her first Santa Claus when she was just six months old. Over the course of her lifetime, her collection grew to more than 2,500 Santa figurines, music boxes, dolls, dishes, ornaments and photos from all over the world.

One of her favorites was purchased at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. One of the most unusual Santas in her collection is a doll with one red and one green eye. The newest pieces are Lennox Santas her family had commissioned for her. Some of the finest Santas in the collection are the Duncan Royal Santas from around the world.

The museum boasts Santa artwork by Norman Rockwell and Thomas Nast, as well as a complete collection of Haddon Sundblom Coca-Cola Santas.

After Ms. Hopkins death in 1990, her family donated the entire collection to the Columbus Historical Preservation Trust, who have maintained the collection to this day. Recently, two more family collections have been donated to the museum, and an additional display room has just been opened, bringing the total collection to over 3,500 pieces.

More information is available at the museum’s website After December, tours of the museum must be arranged by appointment in advance, but for December it’s open to the public free of charge. In fact, they’re giving out a free museum souvenir to every visitor, while supplies last.

Word from the North Pole is that the real Santa Claus will try to be there, too, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in December. “I’m so honored they’re opening the museum to the public for free,” said Mr. Claus. “Everyone knows it’s a busy month for me, but I’m going to try my best to be there at the museum to greet everyone.”

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