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Elf Without Jingles

From Santa and Mrs. Claus to popcorn maker and Bookin' Buddy, the Ossenforts relish volunteer role

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From Santa and Mrs. Claus to popcorn maker and Bookin' Buddy, the Ossenforts relish volunteer role

by Julie Buntjer, The Daily Globe, Worthington, Minnesota | Posted: 03-30-2017


LUVERNE, MINNESOTA ---- Few things on this Earth bring greater joy than sharing a smile, a hug, a kind word, or even a good belly laugh. It keeps you young, it's good for the heart, and it does wonders for the soul.

In the case of Rodger and Dianne Ossenfort, the same things can be said of the volunteer work they do in their hometown of Luverne. They'll quickly admit that while they get to bring their joy to others, it's also brought much joy to them.

Take, for instance, their roles as Santa and Mrs. Claus. Rodger has served as St. Nick for both Luverne and its neighboring village of Hardwick for the last 30 years; while Dianne has worn Mrs. Claus' red gown since 1989.

"I always worry each year whether my dress is gonna fit," she says as her eyes widen and she laughs heartily.

They're the most popular guests at Luverne's annual Winterfest celebration every December, where the kids line up to sit on Santa's lap and get a friendly greeting or two from the Missus.

Between the two of them --- Rodger grew up in Luverne, and Dianne in Hardwick --- they can connect some of the children with their own older generations. It always helps the kids feel at ease when they know that Santa actually knows their parents and/or their grandparents, notes Dianne.

Portraying the Clauses has brought the Ossenforts many laughs and very special memories. One of their favorite stories is about the time when a young kid now in college sat on Santa's lap and asked for a tractor.

"We knew that he was from Hardwick, and that he lived on a farm," Dianne recalls. "So when Santa asked whether he wanted a red tractor or a green tractor, he just burst out into tears and said, 'I just want a tractor!' His heart was beating so fast."

In another instance, Rodger thought about how he mentioned to one little girl about her home on Brown Street. "She turned to her mom and she said, 'Mom! He knows where we live!' " says Dianne.

It's not just the young children who appreciate Santa's visit.

The Ossenforts make an annual trek to all the nursing homes in the area --- Hills, Edgerton, Jasper, Ellsworth --- and of course, Luverne --- where they visit Hardwick natives and deliver them a sack of candy.


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