Christmas decorations stay up year-round in one small town that bears the name Santa Claus. You will find it in Spencer County, which hugs the bottom of Indiana just north of the Ohio River above Kentucky.
Its 2,403 residents are unified in their commitment to extend the hand of holiday hospitality to guests who come to have their photo made with Santa in every season.
The town is already hopping in advance of Christmas 2021. Children are encouraged to send their letters to St. Nicholas in Santa Claus, Ind. early to ensure a prompt reply. It’s been a holiday tradition for volunteer elves to respond to children’s letters to Santa since 1914.
Address envelopes to Santa Claus, P.O. Box 1, Santa Claus, IN 47579.
The post office there, located at 45 Kringle Circle, has a “unique holiday picture postmark cancellation stamp.” Each year, local high school art students are invited to submit their sketches in a holiday postmark contest.
The community was settled in 1854 and chose the name Santa Fe. In 1856, when the town was working to establish a post office, its application was denied. Citizens were told that Indiana already had a Santa Fe with a post office, which had been authorized in 1849.
The Spencer County crowd regrouped and selected Santa Claus as the new name for the town. Details surrounding that occurrence have been lost in the fog of Christmases past. Not even Rudolph has been able to pierce through the murkiness.
Demonstrating its own brand of Christmas spirit is a town named North Pole in Alaska. It’s located on the Tanana River, between Fairbanks and Moose Creek.
North Pole, which today has a population of 2,066, started out as Mosquito Junction. That name had been selected by Bon and Bernice Davis, who arrived in 1944 as the first homesteaders. The name of the village was later softened to Davis.
A land development company had the bright idea in 1952 of renaming Davis as North Pole to attract business.
The town’s historian said the developers “reasoned that some toy manufacturer might be induced to locate a factory in North Pole, so their products could be advertised as being ‘Made in North Pole.’ Also, someone might start a Santa Land, which would become a northern version of Disneyland.”
“Bon Davis thought that the idea was far-fetched but acceded to the request,” according to the North Pole webmaster. And so it was decreed in 1953 that North Pole would be the town’s official name.
Conrad and Nellie Miller had moved to the community in 1950 to establish a trading post. He happened to look a lot like Santa, so they rebranded their entire operation as Santa Claus House...at 101 St. Nicholas Drive.
It developed into a year-round “Christmas store” and tourism destination. You can’t miss it. Look for the jumbo Santa statue that marks the spot. He’s a big guy, standing 42 feet tall and weighing 900 pounds.
Con and Nellie have passed on, so their children, Mike Miller and Merry Christmas Miller are now running the business.
Santa is “on duty” at the store from June 1 through Christmas Eve, but he leaves on Dec. 24 at 3 p.m. to prepare for making his rounds. (It’s 1,700 miles from North Pole in Alaska to the “other” North Pole on top of the world.)
Visitors to Santa Claus House should also explore the big red barn on the property – home of the “Antler Academy (of Flying & Reindeer Games).”
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