25,189-piece Santa collection sets Guinness record

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/ Source: TODAY contributor
By By Lisa Marsh

And you thought your relatives had a lot of Santa tchotchkes.

Jean-Guy Laquerre, a retired geography teacher, has a Santa Claus collection that contains 25,189 individual pieces. That’s a ho-ho-whole lot of Santas and has earned him a spot in the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records for the largest collection of St. Nick memorabilia.

The 74-year-old native of Boucherville in Quebec, Canada, started collecting Santa Claus items in 1988, when he inherited a papier-mache Santa, dating from 1910, from his wife’s aunt.  Since that time he has added figurines, cards, postcards, pins, brooches, toys, posters and more all bearing the likeness of the jolly old elf.

“I’m a collector at heart,” Laquerre admits. “I started out as a stamp collector at age 14, and in 1967 started collecting wine labels.”

However, Laquerre’s Santa stockpile has eclipsed the other collections with a little help from his friends. “I purchase them here and there, and then friends will give them to me. Various people give me these items as gifts.”

And amazingly, Laquerre puts the entire Kris Kringle kit and kaboodle on display in the basement of his two-story house each holiday season. The set-up takes two weeks and is viewable only by invitation from Dec. 15 through Jan. 15.

Invitations are issued to “members of my collectors club, neighbors, family and friends. They’re surprised when they come over and see,” Laquerre said, adding, “but they are also very impressed by the fact that I’m a winner in Guinness World Records.”