Connie & Scott Reeves: Giving Their Best to Leland
For Connie and Scott Reeves, it has always been about giving back.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Wendy Hunt
As owners of Leland’s oldest and largest mobile home park, the couple has been providing housing solutions to people in need for many years. But during the holidays, the landlord duo wears another hat. Literally. When they’re not maintaining the park property and helping their residents, Mr. and Mrs. Reeves are donning bright red caps to spread holiday cheer as Leland’s favorite Claus couple.
Connie Reeves was born in Georgia and moved to the Wilmington area at the age of two when her parents chose to join her uncle, William E. Thrush, who owned a chain of drive-in movie theaters in the area. Connie’s parents, Mary and Barney Padgett, helped Thrush by operating his Oleander Drive location, the Park View Drive-In.
In 1965 the Padgetts ventured out of the entertainment industry to start a residential and resort rental business, Azalea Plaza Estates. Although Connie juggled school and eventually other careers, she was always heavily involved with her parents’ company.
“My parents raised me with the idea that I would carry on the family business,” says Connie. “I had always planned on taking over for them.”
When her mother passed away in 1989, Connie became more involved in managing the business. With her father aging, Connie took over more of the properties while also working her day job.
Her job at a local chiropractic office kept her busy and also introduced her to her future husband.
Scott Reeves moved to Wilmington from Pennsylvania in 1976 on the advice of his sister and brother-in-law. Scott’s family urged him to move to the area as soon as he finished serving in the U.S. Air Force. When his time as staff sergeant was up, he took their advice, secured a job working for General Electric as a machine operator in the aircraft division, and moved to town.
Scott met Connie as he frequented her office as a patient. Their chiropractic connection led to marriage in 1991. In 1995 Connie decided to manage the Leland park full-time, and in 2000 Connie and Scott built a house for themselves in Brunswick County.
The Leland park that Connie manages is the largest and one of the most established mobile home parks in Brunswick County. Azalea Plaza Estates Mobile Home Park is located on Old Fayetteville Road and boasts more than 70 units.
“It’s not your average mobile home park,” says Connie.
“We have a swimming pool, tennis court, playground and other amenities.”
Connie and Scott are justifiably proud of their park.
“We take a great deal of pride in trying to provide safe and affordable housing in a structured and fun community environment,” says Connie. “We’re proud to carry on the business our parents built. It feels good to offer safe and affordable housing for single member families such as seniors on fixed incomes, young families just starting out and area workers — people who are often in the midst of a difficult transition.”
Connie manages day-to-day operations and Scott, who retired from GE in February 2010 after 33 years, now works at the park handling maintenance and upkeep.
“I like the folks that we get to deal with here,” says Scott. “We get to meet a lot of good people.”
Scott is the one who residents call if they have a leaky faucet or a squeaky step. “I like it,” he says. “I enjoy keeping the residents happy and the place looking nice.”
When he’s not working, Scott enjoys tinkering on the couple’s classic car collection. Scott claims his ’68 Plymouth Road Runner as his favorite, while Connie loves her ’78 Corvette Indy Pace Car.
“We have a couple of older cars too,” explains Scott. “But those are long-term projects.”
But if you ask Scott about his favorite form of transportation, he’s likely to direct you to something a little more magical. It’s hooves over horsepower for the Reeves. Think antlers, not antiques. During the months of November and December, the Reeves trade their classic cars for a sparkling sleigh. Goodbye Road Runner, hello reindeer.
“Several years ago, I was out front cutting my grass when a local guy by the name of Joe Hinson pulled off the side of the road to ask me a question,” recalls Scott. “He wanted to know if I would be interested in playing Santa for his Christmas festival. I guess it’s my white curly beard and my, well, curves that made him think that I would be a good fit.”
Connie and her sister Dianne, an expert seamstress, designed a Santa and Mrs. Claus costume for the couple to wear to the festival.
“It had to fit just right to show off all of Santa’s curves and contours,” says Connie with a chuckle. “When Santa puts on his suit, he really comes to
Around the middle of November of every year, the Claus’ calendar begins to fill up with local engagements. Scott and Connie have played Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the largest living Christmas tree event in Wilmington, in the holiday parade held by New Hanover County Parks and Recreation, for the Carolina Christmas Festival and Parade in Leland, at Toys for Tots events and for multiple business and family holiday parties.
“As Leland starts to get bigger and better every year, hopefully I can add to the charm of Christmas,” says Scott.
Scott feels fulfilled by giving back to the community in which he lives, but there’s something about playing Santa that offers him extra reward.
“My favorite part about playing Santa is looking into the eyes of the kids and seeing that they really still believe,” Scott says with a smile. “As long as you believe, there will always be a Santa.”
“And I enjoy seeing the look of awe in the faces of the adults,” adds Connie. “You can tell that they’re reminiscing about their childhood. It’s just a very rewarding opportunity to play Mrs. Claus.”
“One of my most treasured memories is from a family Christmas party that I attended as Santa,” recalls Scott. “A woman sat on my knee and whispered into my ear that she wanted a baby by next Christmas. She pointed out her husband, who I was sure to speak to before I left the party. The next year at the same family party the woman came up to me. She placed a baby on my lap and whispered, ‘Thank you, Santa.’”
Scott and Connie fulfill dreams and create magical moments during the holiday season and contribute to the community throughout the rest of the year as well.
Connie served on the North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce board until June 2010, then joined the Cape Fear Chapter of the Red Cross as a board member. She is a 25-year veteran State Notary Public and a member of the Eastern Star Wilmington affiliate and the Rambling Rose Red Hatters. Scott is a retired youth sports coach and a lifetime member of Optimist International.
“We really love what we do, both in our business and in the community,” says Connie. “It’s really all about our love for people. God has richly blessed our family. It’s just our way of giving back.”