One of the focal points of the huge Christmas display in the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park is that one of the shelter houses near the entrance to the park has been magically changed into Santa’s House, where St. Nicholas himself will meet and greet all visitors – young and old – during the holiday season.
The artwork that creates the House is the work of Laurice See, who at first thought she was working with a much smaller area.
“When Shawnna (Ramsey, the park display coordinator) called me and asked me, I thought I was going to be creating something eight-feet by eight-feet, some type of a background,” Laurice See said. “But then she told me that she had all of the panels hung, and it became much bigger. It’s been so much fun.”
What has been created covers three sides of the shelter house, with two walls spanning eight-feet high and 12-feet wide; while the back wall is eight-feet high, and 36-feet long.
Santa has a big house.
Her artistic talents started as a little girl, with Laurice See always showing an aptitude for art.
“The interesting part about it is, some of my dad’s (Larry Howlett’s) decorations are down there,” Laurice See said. “Some of the rod iron pieces. The Christmas trees and the ‘Peace on Earth’ and the big train, where my dad’s. Tourism bought them from my mom last year, and this year I’ve got my painting in it, so it’s pretty cool.”
Laurice See said she’s really returned to painting over the past 10 years, noting that it’s her pastime hobby and stress relief.
She grew up in Aurora, and she loved art in school.
“Art was my favorite subject in elementary and middle school,” Laurice See said. “My dad was always my inspiration. I always marveled at how daddy could look at something and recreate it, either by drawing it, painting it, or with iron work sculpting.”
Laurice See said that art took a back seat once she got married and had her two children, but then she began to pick it up again.
“After the kids grew up a little bit further, and I got Julie and Christopher involved in drawing and painting. That’s how we got started.”
Laurice See said that she doesn’t do a lot of freehand artwork, noting that the Santa House display was done using a projector to put line images on the walls.
Along with her love of art, Laurice See said that she also likes the Christmas season, noting that now that she has grandchildren it’s even more exciting.
“With the park down there all being lit up, it just brings back a lot of good stuff,” Laurice See said, thinking of her late father. “The grandkids love it.”