Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Fire Truck and the Candy Cane Sleigh

One of the very neat things about the reopening of Santa’s Village this year is to see some of the more historic rides or props return to the park. The Fire Truck Ride is back and is being prepared to reopen sometime in the future. The ride was put in the park in the mid-1970s. The Candy Cane Sleigh is also back at the park. The sleigh is an original attraction that dates back to the opening season of 1959.

It is really great to see the excitement on the faces of our guests at Santa’s Village when they see these two attractions. Some remember riding them as a child and some are experiencing them for the first time. And when you think about it, that is pretty cool in and of itself.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sometimes it is just like déjà vu…

Déjà vu is defined as “the experience of feeling sure that one has already witnessed or experienced a current situation.” Well in the case of Santa’s Village this past year reopening… déjà vu is alive and well at the park. Sometimes it seems as if Santa's Village never really closed at all.

Granted some things have changed, but there is so much that is the same. A lot of former employees have resumed their roles at the park like Don, Joslyn, Ralph, Tim, and Sue and others have taken on new roles like Jason and Amy. Each day it seems that some former employee is visiting the park. Crystal, Dean, and others have made their way to Santa’s Village this summer. Then you have the guests that are coming to relive some childhood memories with their children and grandchildren.

There are many new employees and visitors to the park also that get caught up into the nostalgia and the magic that is Santa’s Village. They are quickly becoming a part of an extended family that first started in 1959. Over the years, Santa’s Village has hosted more than 20 million guests and has employed many thousands of local teenagers and adults.

The future of the Santa’s Village property seems secure for the future…at least for a while. The Azoosment Park, Paintball Explosion, and the Sterling Bay Companies have come together to bring the property back to life. In doing so, they also brought back a lot of memories and magic to a lot of people… including Santa Claus. And in the process they all have become part of the Santa’s Village family and history.

Being at Santa’s Village again is sometimes just like déjà vu…but that is really a good thing. Seeing the smile on a child’s face will never get old.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Day to Remember Santa Don Goers

Since the reopening of Santa’s Village in Dundee, Illinois there have been many families that have come out to enjoy the park together. This past Saturday the family of Santa Don Goers came to Santa’s Village. Santa Don passed away this past May of 2011 just as Santa’s Village was about to reopen.

Don’s daughter’s family came to the park to enjoy some old memories and create some new ones. It was good to see them and it was even more interesting to see Don’s grandchildren and great grandchildren enjoy the place that their grandfather was associated with for over 20 years.

Don Goers first came to Santa’s Village before there was even a Santa’s Village. Don was a local construction labor that was hired on by the Henck Construction Company of Sky Forest, California in September of 1958 to build Santa’s Village. In a way, Don was the original Santa’s Village employee.

Don help build the park from day one. He worked on the buildings, help form the cement mushrooms and toad stools, and installed the rides. When the construction of the park was complete, Don was offered a job by Santa’s Village to work in the maintenance department. Santa’s Village opened on May 30, 1959 and Don Goers was there.

In his early days, Don helped anywhere he could. He even suited up in the red suit to help the park’s first two Santas, Jim Combs and Eric Mitchell Lavoie, get a day off. In 1966, Don would take over the role of the main Santa Claus. A position he held until 1979. Don’s fourteen seasons as Santa for Santa’s Village is one of the longest in the park’s history.

Not only was Don known as the Santa from Santa’s Village, he was known as the Santa from the Joseph Spiess department store in downtown Elgin, Illinois. A position he held for nearly a decade. Besides the park and the department store, Don appeared at Holiday events, parties and homes in and around the Chicagoland area.

When Don’s family visited the park this past Saturday, they got to reflect on his years at Santa’s Village. We held a small private ceremony for them and presented some photos and information about Santa Don. In talking, I believe that the grandchildren really didn’t know what their grandpa had contributed to Santa’s Village and its success. By the day’s end I am pretty sure they knew a little bit more.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sparky meets the Reindeer

I spend a lot of time at Santa’s Village and sometimes you miss out on some of the simple little things… like walking your dog. So this past weekend we brought our dachshund Sparky to the park for a visit. Sparky has been to Santa’s Village before, but this was the first time he got to meet Santa’s reindeer.

Of course the reindeer were not the only thing Sparky got to see…he even got to ride on the Candy Cane Sleigh, visit the North Pole, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings that are Santa’s Village.

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