Santa Claus, Indiana is typically associated with Christmas but a local campground is working to draw people to the town for a different holiday. We traveled to Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort to see how Santa Claus is nearly doubling its size for Halloween.
Every year the Day family looks forward to its biggest holiday of the year. With the kids on fall break from school, Halloween camping at Lake Rudolph has become a tradition for Trudy Day and her Newburgh family.
“We literally come every year at the same week and we count down in our house to this week of camping,” she says.
The campground hosts many events such as costume contests, trick or treating and site decorating judging.
“It became a big family project, we all make things together, build new props, every year what can we do different, what can we add on,” Day says.
But this is just one camp site – add this one to 471 others and it is a sight to see. The haunted campground makes owner Philip Koch a happy guy.
“Halloween is definitely one of my favorite holidays now,” he says.
That’s understatement from the man who started it all. He says the campground always had a good summer season, but he was looking for a way to bring back families when most kids went to school. He did some research and discovered that Halloween was the second biggest consumer holiday next to Christmas. When you figure in what people spend on decorations, costumes and candy it is nearly $7 billion each year. Koch wanted to capitalize on that.
“I would say we used to have occupancy on the fall weekend and spring weekends of roughly 10 percent, and we’re now achieving occupancy of 90 to 95 percent average across all of our weekends,” he says.
Close to 5,000 people will fill the campground the 7 weekends before Halloween surpassing even some of the popular summer holidays.
“Our last three weekends of Halloween are going to be the first ones that are going to book out rather than Memorial Day weekend, rather than Labor Day weekend, rather than 4th of July Weekend,” Koch says.
They can count on having 14 nights of the year completely booked keeping families like the Days coming back for more.
“We started with a couple of pumpkins, now we are making 2 trips from Newburgh and getting trailers,” Day says.
With Halloween weekends at their maximum, Koch is starting to look at other holidays.
“We’re kind of looking to take that same success we’ve experienced with Halloween and strangely enough apply that to Christmas.”
Camping with Santa? After all, they are in the town of Santa Claus.