If there is any place that offers a bit of holiday inspiration, it is Santa Claus, Indiana.
As we grow older, we sometimes can get a bit cynical about the holidays and in need of a bit of magic to rekindle the holiday spirit. “The town of Santa Claus is festive and magical year round,” said Melissa Brockman, executive director of the Spencer County Visitors Bureau, “but at Christmas, the town and residents go all out to make it extra special for visitors of all ages.”
Santa Claus is home to the only post office with the Santa Claus name. Set in Indiana’s rolling hills, the small town of Santa Claus was first laid out on paper in 1846. The early residents obtained the unique name of Santa Claus after the postal department turned down for the name of Santa Fe because the name was already taken.
The most popular story about how the town obtained its name is that the town gathered on Christmas Eve in a one room church building to come up with a name. A little girl heard sleigh bells and shouted, “Its Santa Claus! It’s Santa Claus!” From this event, the town decided to name the town Santa Claus.
In the 1900s, Postmaster James Martin started answering the letters children sent to the Santa Claus post office. In 1929, when the postal department threatened to make the town change its name because of the overwhelming volume of mail, James Martin caught the attention of Robert Ripley of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” fame, to help keep the town’s unique name. Through Robert Ripley’s feature of Santa Claus, Indiana, in several of his early cartoon articles it is thought that this influence helped the town kept its name.
The tradition of sending letters to Santa addressed to Santa Claus has grown over the years and in 1976 Santa’s Elves, Inc., was created and dedicated to answering Santa’s letters.
The entire town is a holiday treat with shops that offer ornaments and great Christmas shopping options. The Santa Claus Museum & Village catches the special history of the town. When driving into the Santa Claus Museum & Village you can see the Santa Statue built by Carl Barrett in 1935 with a Star of Bethlehem at its base pointing east.
Within the museum complex is the town’s first post office. “This was moved here in February of 2012,” said Joyce Robinson a volunteer at the Santa Claus Museum & Village. “We are turning this into a historical park. You can write a letter to Santa. We get the letters and responses go out the first week of December with a postmark designed (each year) by a high school senior from Heritage Hills. The postmark is good from December 1-24th, and then it is destroyed.”
The museum grounds also includes the early 1800s Santa Claus church and includes many treasures from the early days Santa Claus Land.
Next door to Holiday World, a themed Christmas park open from May to October, is Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort. Built in 1958, the Koch family opened the campground behind their family home near a seven-acre lake with a beach and swimming area. Since that early opening, they have renovated and expanded.
For those who enjoy camping or the chance to stay in a cabin to get away from it all, the Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort has a series of fall options. One of the most popular residential choices is the Rudolph Christmas Cabins which feature a master bedroom with a king bed, large loft with a queen mattress and 4 twin-size mattresses, 3 flat screen TVs, electric fireplace, gas grill and a very large covered deck. These cabins sleep a maximum of 8 people (4 adults and 4 children).
The resort also offers the Santa Claus Land of Lights, a 1.2 mile driving tour of LED lights telling the story of Rudolph.
During the first three weekends in December, the town offers Santa’s Great Big LED Tree of Lights at Kringle Place and children can visit with Santa as their parents browse through the huge Santa Claus Christmas Store or visit the Christmas craft show and enjoy all there is to see and do in this magical holiday town.
More information can be found at the Spencer County Visitor’s Bureau website: http://www.SantaClausInd.org/Christmas
For more information about where to go and what to do in Santa Claus, log onto http://www.SantaClausInd.org
Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort is located at 78 North Holiday Blvd., Santa Claus, IN 47579
For more information log onto http://www.lakerudolph.com.
The Santa Claus museum is located at 69 Indiana 245 Santa Claus, IN 47579
Call (812) 544-2434 or log onto http://www.santaclausmuseum.org for hours and information.