Marlena’s in Hayes Valley Rolls Out Their Collection of 1,400 Santas

Photo: Marlena's/Facebook

It’s that time of year again when Garry “Marlena” McLain packs up all the Halloween and Thanksgiving gear, stows it back in storage, and pulls out his biggest collection of holiday tchotchkes: the Santas. McLain tells Hayeswire that it all started in 1990, with just three Santas, back when his little neighborhood gay bar Marlena’s (488 Hayes) was new, and Hayes Valley was nothing like it is today. The collection has grown over the decades, with the help of gifts from fans and patrons “from Russia to Czechoslovakia to South America,” to be 1,400 strong, and it takes six days to set up. We should note there are some valuable antiques in the mix — McLain values his collection at around $200,000 — not to mention a few un-PC blackface Santas hiding among them, and at least one or two from Holland with Sinterklaas’s fictional helper, Black Pete (Schwarze Pete or Zwarte Piet), something Americans never understand but the Dutch insist isn’t racist. Anyhow, there’s tons of them! Hanging from ceilings, adorning every surface. McLain welcomes families with children to come in any afternoon to look at the Santas, between noon and 5 p.m., but after that it’s adults only, and buying a drink would be encouraged. [Hayeswire]