McKinney Family Makes Santas Sold Around the World

In McKinney, there's a Santa workshop where glitter is like breadcrumbs -- leading to the magic that's happening inside.

"This is the beginning of the fun part," said Brian Kidwell, while tapping a small wheel into place. "Here before too long, it'll start looking like a car."

For 35 years, the Kidwell family has turned one man's trash into another man's heirloom Santa.

"Just the creative outlet really, is probably the best blessing about it," Brian said.

Brian creates the base for the Santas, then his wife, Cindy, adds the sparkle.

"She makes my work look great," Brian said with a laugh.

Each Santa is hand crafted and loved for its creativity. They've been sold at stores like Holiday Warehouse in Plano and through catalogs, and department stores, including one that once had a unique request from a client in Japan.

"The Gump's department store. They called us up like in maybe the middle of December and asked if we could do 15 pieces for them," Brian said. "Like, 'No way.' They said, 'Well, the Emperor wants to give them as Christmas presents.' I said, 'Well, maybe we can work the Emperor in,' you know," he said with a laugh.

The Kidwell Santas wear clothing made from vintage fabrics sewn together by an antique machine. And all of them, are influenced by Brian's father, Al Kidwell.

"Everybody loved my dad. He was such an incredible guy," Brian said.

Al is the man who sculpted the molds that still today, create each Santa's face.

"My dad was an artist," Brian said. He was an illustrator and a sculptor and a painter... he never made anything for money," Brian said, only for the love of creating.

Cindy was working on one of Al's Santa faces after he passed.

"She had tears streaming down her face," Brian said. "I said, 'What is wrong?' She said, 'I can, I can see your dad's thumbprints' -- and it was just this emotional, you know, moment that she had this connection with my dad."

Al is the cornerstone whose legacy they're carrying on today.

In their workshop, Al's Santa jacket, adorned with bells, fur and wooden buttons still hangs proudly beneath his picture.

"He is really... the reason we do what we do," Brian said.

And his presence is still felt in their workshop. One day a shopper with a self-proclaimed sixth sense detected what long-time employees witnessed after Al's passing.

"She turned and looked at me and she said, 'Do you guys have ghosts?'" Brian said. "I said, 'Well, it's funny you should ask.' I said, 'We joke about it,' you know because sometimes doors open and close on their own more than once in the course of a night. Depending on how tired you are dictates how quickly we leave afterwards. But, she said, 'I feel the presence of two spirits in this building.'"

A building that's filled with a father's love and creativity that are still seen by the sparkles of inspiration he left behind.

"We still think my dad's hanging around and keeping us on track," Brian said, helping this Santa workshop continue to share the magic of Christmas.

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