City Man Carries On 60-Year Tradition

Everybody shows their Christmas spirit in different ways when it comes to decorating their house.

Some people use thousands of colorful lights and large flashy displays. One may also decide to keep it simple by just decorating the inside of their home and perhaps hanging a Christmas wreath on their front door.

For city resident Gilbert Lindahl, Christmas decorating means carrying on a 60-year tradition.

During the last 30 years, if you’ve passed by 476 Willard St. during the holiday season there has been a large indicator to all that it is Christmastime once again. The indicator is an 8-foot by 8-foot painted sign of the man residing at the North Pole who once a year brings gifts to all the good boys and girls.

The Santa Claus sign was constructed in 1953 by Richard H. Lindahl, who owned Lindahl Sign Service of Falconer. For almost 30 years, the sign would be on display at his house on the corner of Falconer and Dow streets. In 1956, the sign went national as Sign of the Times magazine featured it for their ”Best of the Month” display. The magazine article states the sign is made up of two pieces of quarter-inch tempered pressed wood, plywood and other materials.

The sign was passed on to Richard H. Lindahl’s son, Gilbert Lindahl. Lindahl has been displaying the sign at his property now for more than 30 years. Lindahl still has the magazine article featuring his father’s sign.

“You don’t see quality like this anymore,” he said. “It is still the original. It has never been retouched.”

The sign has become icon for those in the Jamestown and Falconer area during the last 60 years.

“We used to draw a lot of people to the house. I have 80 to 100 hits on Facebook from people who said they remembered seeing the sign as a kid, and how they would drive by it to see it each Christmas,” he said. “It is a tradition. It brings back a lot of memories for a lot of people.”

Lindahl said he will hear from neighbors and his family if he doesn’t put the Santa sign up right away.

“Every year I have to send a picture of the sign to my sister who lives in North Carolina. If I don’t put it up, three or four of my neighbors will call here and ask ‘When is Santa going up,'” he said. “I didn’t put it up one year (following knee surgery), and it wasn’t good.”