The air is filled with the spirit of the holidays at the Shell Factory's Holiday House.
Mrs. Claus greets visitors with a cheery welcome and then goes about her decorating and stocking of shelves with gifts and ornaments. When asked where Santa is, she said, "He's back at the North Pole overseeing the elves making toys. I'm lucky to be able to come to Holiday House here in Florida. I've been coming for five years now. It's is very, very cold at the North Pole."
Walking through Holiday House is like a Christmas fantasy with icicle lights hanging from the ceilings like snow drifting down, a train running around on a track at the top of the walls and Christmas music playing. Decorated trees stand in front of windows, along walls and down the center of the spacious store.
Mrs. Claus, a.k.a. Rita Glossen, greets visitors to the Shell Factory’s Holiday House.
"Each of our trees is theme decorated," she says. "We stock thousands and thousands of ornaments, some Florida themed, some traditional, some very elegant."
You'll also find a Victorian Christmas village.
Mrs. Claus pointed out many of the gift items available at the Holiday House.
"We have gifts for all ages and interests, in all price ranges and from companies such as the well known Department 56, Fontanini, Seraphim Angels, Annalee, Willow Tree, Jim Shore and Charming Tails," she said.
Ruth Keiling trailed behind her son, Mason Dean, as he made his way to the coin operated Santa's sleigh with two reindeer ride at the back of the store. "He's loving this visit to Holiday House," she said. "It's all so magical, it makes you really feel the Christmas spirit."
The Holiday House is open daily year round and is located at the far north corner of the Shell Factory Shoppes, which are located at 2787 North Tamiami Trail. For information, call 995-2141.