Santa's and Sleighs

A new holiday exhibit, “Santa’s and Sleighs,” will be featured at the Mitchell County Historical Museum.

The exhibit has been created in memory of the late Jon Witt and in honor of Richard Lunde, who for 40 years played Santa Claus for local and area children.

On display will be the Witt family antique cutter sleigh, which was recently refurbished by Jon Witt’s daughter, Linda Kuehne, and Phil Kolbet.

A mannequin with Lunde’s Santa outfit will be on display, as well as Keith and Marlene Ham’s Santa Claus collection. The 100 pieces and artwork were gathered by the Osage couple on their world travels.

Artist David Rottinghaus will also exhibit his original Santa and Sleigh painting. Other Mitchell County collectors and artists will also be featured.

The Witt sleigh will be the featured item as visitors enter the museum. Kuehne said the sleigh was a “treasured possession” of her father. She and her siblings enjoyed many sleigh rides as children, she said.

Jon Witt purchased the sleigh in 1973, from a farmer in central Iowa. When the Witt family moved to North Iowa, Witt no longer had the team of ponies, but still displayed the sleigh during the holidays. In 2000 the sleigh was featured on the 

cover of “Successful Farming Magazine,” with Witt and Kuehne’s daughter, Jacey.

The sleigh was in need of repair and in November 2012, Kolbet and Kuehne decided it was time to refurbish the sleigh “as a way to preserve all the special memories. After completion, it seemed too beautiful to leave outside all winter.” 

Roy Lumholt did the restoration.

Kuehne noted how much her father enjoyed the historical society, and served on the original planning committee for the construction of the Cedar River Complex.

“He enjoyed interacting with people so we thought displaying his sleigh here in the museum would be a perfect opportunity for all to enjoy it and also honor his memory.”

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Linda Witt Kuehne sits in a favored possession of her late father, Jon Witt. The sleigh will be one of the featured items in the Santa's and Sleighs exhibit at the Mitchell County Historical Society.




The Witt family enjoy a winter day aboard the antique cutter sleigh