Christmas has come early in Owaka this year, with the transformation of The Bakehouse Gallery into Santa’s grotto.
Lorraine Gregory is the mastermind behind the project. She has populated the walls and shelves with hundreds of little Santas and Christmas-related items, with help from friends and family.
All the items are from Mrs Gregory’s personal collection.
“I’ve been collecting since the year 2000, when I lived in Australia. I couldn’t even say how many items there are here.”
And many of the items were unable to be bought today.
“You can’t find nativity scenes like this anywhere any more.”
The Bakehouse Gallery is run by Dane Catherwood, who was lending the property in the spirit of Christmas.
“I just think it’s great,” he said.
The grotto’s opening night would be this Tuesday and it would open again on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and further days by appointment.
There would be a donation box at the front door, and the money raised would go to the Catlins Search and Rescue team.
“I’m not involved with search and rescue but I thought about all the work they do in this area. So we decided to do it for them. We really want the people to come in to support this cause and have some fun.”
Why was Christmas-time such a fascination for Mrs Gregory?
“I guess there’s just a big kid in all of us .. and I’m one of the biggest. I get a real kick out of seeing all the Santas lined up.”
She said while Christmas was a joyous time, it could also be sad for some people.
“I just want to put a smile on people’s faces.”
Mrs Gregory’s helper, Kaitlyn Dreaver, said she was a bit “Christmased” out after spending the last few days setting up.
“It’s taken us all week, but I really loved helping put it together.”