Katie Marburger shows some of her large Santa collection, which is on display this holiday season at the Evans City Public Library.
EVANS CITY — The shelves at the Evans City Public Library were filled with more than books this season. More than 100 Santas found a new home among the books and on the shelves. The collection belongs to Katie Marburger, a retired nurse from Evans City. Marburger started collecting Santa Claus figures in the 1970s when she began receiving them as gifts from her 19 nieces and nephews. Marburger would spend time with her nieces and nephews by taking them on trips and in return they would get her Santas. “We were spoiled,” Rita Reifenstein, a niece of Marburger's, said. “(Katie) is the aunt everyone wants,” she added. Before Marburger went into retirement, she kept the collection throughout her home and kept some of the Santas on display year round. “She never put them all away, there were always some out,” Reifenstein said. Marburger moved into a retirement home in Zelienople seven years ago. Since then, the Santas have been boxed up and moved around. This is the first year that the Santas have been on public display. Reifenstein asked the Evans City library if it could display the collection, and the librarians agreed. “I had gone to them and asked if they could display it,” Reifenstein said. “I just hope they stay together as a collection.” Five of Marburger's nieces along with a great-niece loaded boxes of Santas into a pickup truck and took them to the library at 204 S. Jackson St. “The pickup truck was completely stuffed with boxes,” Reifenstein said. It took the six women three hours to unbox and display them. “I have to admit, I still don't know how many there are,” Reifenstein said.
The Santas come in all shapes and sizes. There are ornaments, snow globes, Santa cowboys and even a Santa cow. They are made of wood, slate, porcelain and fabric among many other materials. Reifenstein said her aunt has always been the diplomat and cannot pick just one Santa to claim as her favorite. She has, however, kept a small collection for herself. Marburger's collection will be on display in the library until New Year's and has become a hit with the women who work there. “I have not been able to see all of them,” said Judith Pfeifer, library director. It is easy to see why: the collection is spread throughout the library. Pfeifer admits liking the Mickey Mouse Santa the most. Pat Pflug, the children's librarian, said, “What the kids notice and what we notice are two different things.” Pflug led the children who were in for story time around pointing out the different versions of Santa. “The boys really liked the train ones,” Pflug said. The librarians agree that people really like seeing the collection and would like to return it to the shelves for next year's holiday season.
Katie Marburger's Santas find space on the shelves at the Evans City Public Library.
JUSTIN GUIDO/CRANBERRY EAGLE