Shot of Santa with grandchild wins first place in holiday photo contest

12/23/2012 12:28 AM

12/23/2012 4:35 PM

Our second annual Wichita Eagle holiday photo contest drew a festive mix of retro memories, adorable kid poses and Christmas-ready pets.

We asked our readers to submit pictures that represented some of their best Christmas moments, and 39 of them did.

Judges had the difficult task of narrowing the field down to 12 favorites, and readers spent a week voting for the best ones. Nearly 650 people cast votes in the contest.

The winners, below, have come into some extra holiday cash. First place earned a $200 gift card. Second place got a $150 gift card, and third earned a $100 gift card. Our honorable mention winner received a $50 gift card.

First place

For years, my dad has been Santa Claus in the small town of Anthony. He is the perfect choice. He is the embodiment of the spirit of Christmas – kind, loving and generous. He has spent many weekend afternoons in his little house on Main Street, seeing the children of the town, asking them about their Christmas wish list and giving them candy canes. His real life job as a minister is not so different – taking comfort and hope to those in hospitals and jails, delivering meals to shut-ins, playing games with his youth friends and preaching the good news of Jesus.

He has brought joy to many people, but the birth of his first grandchild this year has brought immeasurable joy to him. Baby Hadley knows and loves her Grandpa, but had not yet met Santa Claus. This picture captures their first meeting – the wonder and joy of Hadley’s face is reflected in her Grandpa’s expression. The look they share is precious.

— Lyndi Schnelle, Wichita

Lyndi Schnelle is the daughter of Santa/grandpa John Schnelle, who is the pastor at Anthony Christian Church. She’s baby Hadley’s aunt. Hadley lives with her mom, Jordan, and dad, Lance, in Liberal. Lyndi posted the news of her photo’s selection as a finalist in the contest on Facebook and urged her friends to vote for the picture daily. “I just love it,” she said of the photo, which she took. “It means so much to us.”

Second place

Our parents use to take us to downtown Wichita to see the Christmas decorations. This photo was taken at a Christmas setup on Douglas sometime in the mid-’70s. My sister, Christine, "sat" on one of the canned lights while my brother, Carlos, and I egged her on with our laughter!

— Cindy McVicar, Wichita

McVicar, seen here with her brother, Carlos Ayala, left, and her sister, Christine Black, middle, remembers that this display was located down a few stairs near Douglas and Main, probably in 1973 or 1974. It was cold that night, she said, and her sister sat on the light to warm herself up. Heading downtown to investigate the Christmas displays was a tradition in her family.

Third place

This photograph is of my parents, Joe and Kathleen Gallatin, when they lived at 910 Congress Street in Emporia, Kansas. It was taken Christmas of 1960. My father worked at Meschke’s, a men’s clothing store, and my mother was secretary to the president of Kansas State Teacher’s College (now Emporia State University). Aren’t they a handsome couple? He in his midnight blue jumpsuit and she in her orange and black plaid dress, which coordinates with the turkey so beautifully.

A lovely meal was prepared to be shared in a special family time together. My sister and I weren’t born yet when this photo was taken, but we experienced the continuing tradition that it portrays. This holiday meal’s tradition included a formal setting which meant bringing out the fine china and sterling and serving a traditional sit-down family style meal. I have always loved this photo and thought it should be on the cover of Good Housekeeping because it is so stunning. To me it says simple elegance with family warmth and love at Christmas.

— Laurie McDonald, Wichita

McDonald said she has always loved this photo, which was kept in a collection of slides. A few years ago, she had it made into a print so she could look at it as often as she wanted. Her parents are gone: Her father died in 1996, and her mother last year. But the picture continues to fascinate her. “It just strikes me as so ‘American family,’ ” she said.

Honorable mention

What better way to depict the Nativity scene for our 2002 Christmas card but to have our own grandchildren play the roles? When our sixth grandchild was born, I realized I had all the parts for our own family Nativity picture. I made all the costumes, used the playhouse my son-in-law had made, had my two daughters encouraging the children, and I began shooting! Don’t all shepherds have a sucker? The little one on the left needed a little encouragement to stay still. Five toddlers and an infant were a challenge, but the result is a true family treasure!

—Nancy Farley, Derby

Farley caught this photo by clicking and clicking and clicking and clicking the camera.

Contributing: JesAnne Bouchard of The Eagle

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