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.
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