Memphis Photographer Continues Enchanted Forest Tradition

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Enchanted Forest has been a Memphis Christmas tradition since the 1960s when the animatronic holiday characters decorated the old Goldsmith's in Downtown Memphis.

“They donated them to TWIGS (Together We Initiate Growth and Sharing) and they wanted it to raise money for a children's charity,” said John Childress, Enchanted Forest's Santa photographer. “So Le Bonheur is what we're raising money for.”

Childress remembers going to the winter wonderland as a child himself.

“I went to Goldsmith's in Downtown Memphis – I did - at the Enchanted Forest,” he said, “I have little Polaroids of me and my brother from every year.”

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Now he's the one creating the picture-perfect memories.

“Just getting to be a part of so many people's holiday memories,” he said, “I just close my studio every year for five weeks to shoot this, and I'm here seven days a week every hour it's open to make sure that everybody gets the best picture.”

Childress has the best method to lure the best genuine smile from the kids.

“If you can do an impersonation of Elmo, they love you,” he said, “I just had an Elmo puppet here and I just started doing the voice and just start working out; anything you can do to become distracted.”

If not for the nostalgia and tradition, Childress encourages families to visit Enchanted Forest for one simple reason: Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.

“Getting to raise a lot of money for a worthy cause, charity for kids, at a holiday for kids; how can it get any better than that?” said Childress, “The hospital is here for every child in the mid-south and we hope that you never need them, but if you ever do it is a real comfort to know that they're there.”

Enchanted Forest runs through Dec. 31 at the Pink Palace Museum. Childress said every dime from the Santa photos goes directly to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.

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