Jackson County

The story behind that Moss Point ‘reindeer’

The Christmas elk is coming back this year. It was a hit last year, on the porch of an old Victorian on Belleview Street near downtown Moss Point. And through the year, it has sported seasonal bows -- spring and fall -- but last week, the home’s owner began the transformation to reindeer.
The Christmas elk is coming back this year. It was a hit last year, on the porch of an old Victorian on Belleview Street near downtown Moss Point. And through the year, it has sported seasonal bows -- spring and fall -- but last week, the home’s owner began the transformation to reindeer. klnelson@sunherald.com

Jack Edwards shot it 20 years ago on a hunting trip in Colorado, and on a whim, had the whole elk mounted — standing up.

For the most part, it stayed in a barn on the Edwards’ farm in the country until Jack died last year.

That’s when his wife, Gwen, decided to bring it to the front porch of their beautiful, old Victorian home on Belleview Street near downtown Moss Point.

Jack passed away in October 2015, and the elk appeared soon after. It began attracting attention in December as a reindeer decorated for Christmas — red and green with white lights. It was even more elegant and poignant in the spotlight at night. All that was missing for the perfect Christmas scene was snow. But with the tall white porch and its decorative trim being all white, even the urge for snow was satisfied.

I'm used to it now. He just gets attention, and we do fine.

Gwen Edwards, Moss Point homeowner

Bringing the elk to their city home as a Christmas decoration was something Gwen had wanted to do for years. Jack was afraid someone might take it.

So when it did finally arrive, a friend fixed it to a board in a way that it can’t be easily taken off the porch.

Having it there reminds her of her husband. Jack, who excelled at shipbuilding and was once president of Halter Marine out of New Orleans, had a number of hunting trophies, mostly deer, but this was the only one he had mounted full-body.

“I don’t have any idea why he decided to do it,” she said.

As a reindeer, it attracted admirers. Even though Gwen was skittish with adoring fans, people continued to show up and ask if they could photograph it.

“It drew a tremendous amount of attention last year,” she said. “I was apprehensive. I didn’t like that people would knock on the door, but when it was children, I always let them take pictures.”

The Christmas elk reached the height of popularity only two months after Jack’s death.

Then after Christmas, she decided to leave it on the porch. During the spring, it had a spring bouquet of flowers and ribbons. In the fall, it had a Thanksgiving theme.

Now Christmas has come around again and Gwen and her grandson and granddaughter are working on the transformation to reindeer. So far it has only the red burlap saddle blanket, huge red bow trimmed in gold and is looking up at a Christmas wreath.

She said they likely will finish the scene over the weekend.

“I’m used to it now. I don’t have a problem with it anymore,” she said. “He just gets attention, and we do fine.”

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