This past Friday, March 11, 2011, I spent the day at the Santa’s Village property doing a presentation on the history and memories of the park for the Reindeer Owners and Breeders Association (ROBA.) After the presentation, we donned full Santa regalia to visit with the ROBA members and do some filming on a documentary we were asked to be a part of. With the different aspects of Santa’s Village; The Azoosment Park and Paintball Explosion set to reopen this coming May, being back in costume for the first time on the property since May 2006 (when Santa’s Village closed) was pretty cool. Even cooler was to have “The Chief” back in the park.
I always referred to longtime General Manager Don Holliman as “Chief.” It is a term I often heard growing up as people use to address my father as “Chief” at the hospital where he was the CEO. So the term is part of my vocabulary, though I never addressed anyone except Don with it.
There are a few people that are imbedded in the collective conscious in the history of Santa’s Village. Don Holliman is one of these people. Don came to Santa’s Village in 1968 during the Everding era as a manager for the Polar Dome and was made the park’s General Manager in 1972. A position he held until after the 2003 season.
In Don Holliman, Santa’s Village found a general manager that promoted the rides first and the other intangibles second. Holliman understood the new reality of the amusement business which was taking place in the early 1970s. The profit centers of a park were the gate, rides, foods, attractions, merchandise and games. It has change very little since. Consistency of name and image combined with these profit centers is a recipe for success.
I had not seen Don in many years, though we have talked on the phone often. As my day was winding down last Friday and before I changed back into my civilian clothes, I went into the main office and “snagged” Don for a picture. For the first time in nearly 8 years, Santa and “The Chief” were together at Santa’s Village.
I am extremely happy for Don being back at the park as the General Manager of the Azoosment Park section. He is helping write a new chapter in the continuing saga that is Santa’s Village. Good to see you again “Chief.”