Santa’s workshop opens in Boykins

Published 11:01 am Friday, December 7, 2012


A wooden elf is on display at the Santa’s Workshop at Cumberland Mill Works in Boykins. -- SUBMITTED | Eric Coard

BOYKINS—Standing guard at Cumberland Mill Works on Main Street in Boykins are two soldiers. Nine-feet tall, five-inches thick and made of painted wood, they’re recent creations of the owner Tommy Barnes.

He’s also responsible for making most of the nearly dozen elves in Santa’s workshop, which is free to visitors. The workshop will be open 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 and 15, and an hour after the 3 p.m. Christmas parade on Sunday, Dec. 9. Pictures at $8 each with Santa Claus will be taken Saturday and Sunday.

The chief inspiration came earlier this year, said Barnes, a 55-year-old millwright — he makes things from wood.

“I was lying in bed and woke up in the middle of the night with the idea,” he said. “I woke my wife, Deborah, and told her about it. She liked and we ran with it.”

A September meeting of the Main Street Initiative became the impetus for the work, which was started in October.

“I made the suggestion that us business owners need to think of reasons to bring people to Boykins,” said Eric Coard, 48, owner of Whittington Station. “One idea that Tommy and his wife came up with is turning their millworks into Santa’s workshop.

It’s sort of the Coleman’s Nursery of Boykins. They’re trying to create an atmosphere that children will like.”

Coleman’s is a former Portsmouth nursery that decorated for the holidays from 1966 to 2004.

“There’s a faux fireplace in the foyer for where pictures with Santa can be taken,” Coard said. “It’s such a neat little environment for a good cause.”

Barnes used a picture of a toy soldier and scaled it out for the desired size. It took him two months to complete the figurines.

Other decorations, however, required a woman’s touch.

“My daughter and wife decorated a tree and windows,” he said.

Barnes’ daughter, Emily Klinedinst, painted the fireplace; she’s an interior designer.

Friends Denise and Randy Byrum and Kat Maguire helped by painting the elves. A toy train has also been put in place.

Barnes hopes all this will help bring people through town.