Every December, when tiny tots send wish lists to Santa, the U.S. Postal Service directs those letters to a small town in Spencer County , deep in the southern-most part of the state. A 22-foot-high granite statue of Kris Kringle welcomes visitors to Santa Claus, Indiana.
The community of German immigrants was started in 1846, but remained nameless for several years. Legend has it that the town was christened the night before Christmas, 1849, when a local figure impersonating Santa Claus crashed a town council meeting, goody bag in tow.
By the 1920’s postmaster Jim Martin noticed that a steadily increasing number of letters to the man in the red suit were arriving at his post office. He teamed up with a neighboring postmaster and members of the local American Legion to answer the children’s letters. Later, several entrepreneurs tried out the Santa Claus concept–building a candy-selling castle and a sleigh factory.
But is was Evansville tycoon Louis J. Koch, father of nine, who on August 3, 1946 , opened Santa Claus Land. Santa Claus Land was the country’s first themed amusement park
Santa Claus Land became Holiday World in 1984, expanding its themes to “Fourth of July” and “Halloween.” You can still send your holiday cards through Santa Claus Station, 47579, to be cancelled with a postmark specially designed by a local high school student each year.
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