One thing really makes the event special: a Santa with star power.
After the 2010 event, Colson's team agreed it was worth doing again. But everyone also felt it required a more authentic Santa.
An employee then heard about Terry Larned. "When he came in to meet us, he had candy canes in hand," Colson said. "Even his laugh was a classic, 'Ho-ho-ho.' When I first saw him, I just knew he was the guy."
Larned is a convincing Santa. Children can tug on his beard all they want because it's real; he starts growing it in June. (He plays Santa at other venues, too.) Moreover, Larned always is in the holiday spirit; his home is decorated for Christmas year-round, Colson said.
"At an event like this, you want to deliver the magic of Christmas to a child," Colson said. "And a lot of that depends on the quality and caliber of your Santa. Terry is a perfect fit."
The dealership spends $3,000 to $4,000 a year to put on the event; that pays for items such as the prints sent to families, an occasional new photo backdrop to keep things fresh and Santa's hourly wages. To promote the event, the dealership uses social media, email blasts and a large digital billboard on the nearby, highly traveled I-15.
The investment pays off.
"My commitment to this event never wavers," Colson said. "After so many years, people have come to expect it. It's so worthwhile when you see the excitement on kids' faces when they come into the showroom.
"We'll continue to do it," he added. "At least for as long as Terry is available."