If you see “Strobo Santa” on Hwy. 304, you’ll know you’ve arrived at Wexford Farm in time for the annual “Evening with Santa” presented by Cindy and Reid Sharp and friends. “Strobo Santa” is one of many decorations the Sharps accumulated over more than two decades of hosting the get-together—so many they must be stored in a 48-ft. container. “Strobo Santa,” a tall rendition of St. Nick, features strobe lights to draw attention, and Reid says when they’re switched on you’d swear a state trooper was in hot pursuit of something.
Reid, president and CEO of $320 million-assets First National Bank of Bastrop, says the evening began in 1986 when bank staffers realized the closest Santa for youngsters was many miles away in Austin. So the bank brought Santa to its lobby.
In 1991, the Sharps moved the party to their home, a historic property known as Wexford Farm. Nowadays the affair is not a bank event, but is hosted by the Sharps with help from many “elves,” including friends, some bank staffers, and even bankers from competitive institutions.
One elf, Patricia Weiss, does much of the cooking and baking with her family. The menu is distinctly Texan. Featured dishes include tamales, tortilla roll ups, sausage, taco soup, sausage balls, and chicken salad sandwiches (a specialty of Reid’s mother).
Festivities, besides youngsters telling Santa their wishes, include a hayride and holiday music. Reid adds that folks consume “gallons of red punch and hot cider.”
“Over the years, this has grown and grown and grown,” says Reid. In 2003, the crowd—more than 500 kids plus parents—clearly demanded more space than the Wexford farmhouse could provide. So the Sharps built a big barn—“The Santa House”—out back, and moved things there.
While Cindy, Patricia, and friends handle the culinary side, Reid and a crew of fellow males set up decorations and handle other chores to get the Santa House ready for the crowd.
When asked who plays Kris Kringle (it’s not Reid), Cindy insists, “We have the real Santa.” Actually, a local sign painter plays the role, with his wife playing Mrs. Claus. At one point, Reid and friends talked about getting a snow maker—Bastrop rarely gets the real thing—but that hasn’t been tried yet.
This year marks the twentieth evening at Wexford Farm, and now children of children who attended in the early years are coming.
“We’re just flat crazy,” says Reid. “Two or three days before we do it, we shake our heads and say, ‘This will be the last year.’ But then on the night of it, we see those kids, all happy and smiling, and we say, ‘OK, we’ll do it for one more year’.”
Reid extends an open invitation to any bankers who find themselves in the Bastrop area on the second Sunday of December of any year. He adds: “Just look for Strobo-Santa.”