Specifically, Ingenia Gardens Melton in Brookfield, west of Melbourne Victoria.
For the last eight years, Ray Thorp has been making a list and checking it twice, volunteering as Melton’s local Santa Claus. “I’ve been living at Ingenia Gardens Melton for the last eight years with my family close by. I volunteer as Santa around the town at a few different locations including the Scout Cubs, Bunnings, Joeys, YPA, Andrew’s Hobbies and shopping centres.”
“I’ve actually been dressing up as Santa Claus for close to 35 years now. I do it for the kids, just to see the joy on their faces. I’ve always loved Christmas time! I’m just a kid at heart. I used to dress up as Santa for my grandkids and they loved it.”Ray Thorp
Ray also brings Christmas cheer to the area through his gift building project, where he handcrafts beautiful wooden toys for children. “I used to be a carpenter and sheet-metal labourer, so I’ve always enjoyed building things.”
When Ray isn’t dressing up as Santa, you’ll find him working on his Christmas village display, worth an estimated $13,000. “My Christmas village is one of my pride and joys. It’s taken me 22 years to put together, and I add something new to it every year! I like to see if other people can spot the new additions.”
“There’s lots of bits and pieces from lights and trains to buildings, trees and people. It takes a lot of time to put it together every year, around three days to set up with the help of some of my fellow residents.”
I love writing back to the kids, it’s lovely and I think they really get a lot of excitement out of getting a letter back from Santa. Everything I do is for the kids, they’re the heart of Christmas!”