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Elaborate North College Hill Christmas display is a family tradition

Posted at 4:49 PM, Dec 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-25 04:42:48-05

NORTH COLLEGE HILL, Ohio — On a busy street in North College Hill, one house has a yard filled with hundreds of Christmas figurines and a porch full of stuffed animals. There's even a replica of the infamous leg lamp from "A Christmas Story" and a sleigh with a "Santa Z" vanity plate.

It's a tradition for the family, and one man is continuing it after the death of his father, who was known as "Santa Z."

As a child, Santa Z admired houses with big Christmas displays. As an adult, he made one of his own, starting in 1970.

"He wanted to share his childhood so that everybody else could drive by his house and go, "Ooh" and "Aah," his son, Bill Zapf said.

The house became a local landmark. Santa Z enlisted Bill to help.

"I was kind of like Rusy in the 'Christmas Vacation,'" Zapf said. "I would come out and drop the figurines in the yard and say, 'OK, I've got something else to do.'"

But in time, Zapf became his dad's "chief elf." He eventually took over when his dad passed away in 2008, just a few days before Christmas.

"He said, 'It should carry on just like I was still out there with you,'" Zapf said.

Ten years later, the tradition lives on with several decorations in memory of his dad.

"The first time I saw a little one get up there and smile, it was payment in full for dad," Zapf said.