A group of Evansville residents are looking to bring a long-forgotten icon of the city back to glory.

For those of us old enough to remember, like me, the large stone version of Ol' St. Nick used to stand at the base of the hill leading up to the old entrance of Mesker Park Zoo on St. Joe Avenue, only to be replaced at some point by a large stone gorilla (or maybe the gorilla was first, THEN Santa. Either way Kris Kringle was there at some point if my memory serves me correctly).

One day, he disappeared from the bottom of the hill and reemerged among the gas station's at the intersection of Highway 41 and Interstate 64.

As time went on and the landscape inevitably changed in that area, Santa disappeared yet again, and hadn't been see again until the saddest picture in the history of photography recently popped up on Facebook.

There he his. Father Christmas. Santa Claus. Kris Kringle. Face down in the gravel like he just stumbled out bar after an all-night bender. He once white beard, now drab and grey; beaten down by time, the elements, and life itself. Like a stone version of Billy Bob Thorton's Bad Santa.

As sentimental-type things typically do on Facebook, the photo quickly spread after repeated shares, eliciting enough emotion that someone stepped up and did more than just be the next person to click "Share". They started a Facebook page dedicated to returning Santa to his former glory.

The "Stand Santa Back Up" page currently has nearly 4,400 likes as others have joined the cause with some offering to help repaint the statue, and others offering their business property as a new home for the icon.

Truth be told, I don't know why it was there in the first place. Reading through some of the comments on the "Stand Santa Back Up" Facebook page, some have said it was the property of the owner's of Busler's gas station, while many comments have said the statue served as a landmark to remind them they were home after leaving town for a bit. Whatever the reason, the photo of its current state has struck a cord with many in the Evansville area, and they're banding together to try and get it back upright.

For more information, or to offer your services in getting Santa set in his rightful place once again, check out the "Stand Santa Back Up" page on Facebook.

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