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Vintage Flashback // Summertime fun in Santa’s Village


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‘Twas the night before Thursday, a bit quieter than most
    As I sat on the couch wondering what I should post…

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Ho ho ho everyone. Yes, this is a summer post, despite what you may think!

Although I grew up in Michigan, every summer my parents packed up the family car and drove us across the country to Santa Cruz, California. My dad is a professor and he and my mom taught at the UC Santa Cruz Summer Language Program. It was the perfect place for a family vacation— Santa Cruz is a cool, beachie town and I have tons of amazing memories of playing in the redwood trees and swimming for hours each day. But of all the memories, I have to say that one of my favorites is of a little place called Santa’s Village.

Santa’s Village was a Christmas-themed amusement park built in 1958 (opening up two months before Disneyland!). The concept was simple: bring Christmas joy to children all year round. A little insane and yet….totally amazing! My brother and I were fascinated by the place (we would pass it on the highway whenever we were taking a weekend road trip to San Francisco) and would beg our parents to let us go inside. We visited it only once and then sadly it was shut down. My favorites were the Flying Christmas balls (kind of like the Dumbo ride at Disneyland, only with holiday ornaments!) and of course all the little gingerbread houses.

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Oh look, here’s Mrs. Claus with the infamous Lollipop Tree!

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How cute is this place?? There is something so awesome about celebrating Christmas in the summer time…it makes the whole place even more magical. Like you were getting away with something sneaky!

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Just look how cute these ladies are in their sassy little elf costumes! You know there was a hierarchy to the uniforms—I’m guessing red elves were the entry level workers. Green elves were clearly the senior team members. Uh oh, looks like Green Team Leader Dolores swapped her beige tights for non-regulation pink. I’m going to have to tell Santa about this one….

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There were eventually three parks opened—two in California (Skyforest and Scotts Valley) and one in Dundee, IL.

“Residents of Santa’s Village included Santa and Mrs. Claus, their elves who operated the rides and sold tickets. There was a baby petting zoo filled with goats, sheep, bunnies, ducks, deer and a Mexican burro. All the buildings were designed to look like log chalet-type structures, repleat with snowy roofs and gingerbread trim. The park had a gingerbread house, a elf toy factory, a lollipop tree and brightly colored gift shops. Around the village were tree-top tall wooden soldiers and candy canes. Santa himself had a huge mailbox to accept all the letters from children around the world.”

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Pretty amazing little place, huh. And guess what? That giant pumpkin carriage is actually FOR SALE ON EBAY! HAH! Scoot on over here at snap it up for the jolly price of $29,000.

IMAGES: Alameda Net

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2 Responses

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  1. Susie says

    I have actually been to the Santa’s Village in Sky Forest when I was pretty small. It must have been the late 80s. My younger sister had an undying love for Santa. More of an obsession really. As a family we had to go to great lengths to keep this dream alive well WELL into her jr high age years. I gave up the ghost at the ripe age of 5 :). I remember it being cold, creepy, and not disneyland. I wish it was still running now, though. I know my appreciation for the kitsch would be different as well as the opportunity to photograph it. I had no idea this was a chain. How can Santa be in all those places 🙂

  2. fuzzymama says

    OMG!! I lived by the Illinois locale…its not quite as awesome as the original…but now I will have to make the trek and bring my boys there. Thanks for jogging my memory!



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