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Vintage Kiddo: Santa’s Village Merry Kitschmas in August

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

Ho ho ho, everyone, do I have a story for you. I grew up in Michigan but 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, umm….”theme park” built in 1958. 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. Sadly it was already shut down, but one day we pulled over and were able to sneak on to the grounds and wander around the cobwebby rides. 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.

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

I love how cute these ladies look 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….

“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.”

Pretty amazing, huh. Happy Monday to all! And to all a good week…

IMAGES: Alameda Net
Apparently there is still a Santa’s Village in New Hampshire.

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Posted in Vintage Kiddo Photos, Vintage Toys + Fun Stuff.

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16 Responses

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  1. Yvette says

    Why are the cool places gone? Thanks for sharing this.

  2. flo says

    i thought there was only one santa’s village in the whole wide world, and it was the one in southern california’s big bear mtn.! i wish someone with money could historically preserve it and make it operational again. that is hilarious that your parents let you trespass to visit it when you were younger!

    • Alix says

      Hey Flo!
      It’s so funny you say that. My mom is visiting and she saw this and said, “Um we did NOT ‘sneak’ onto the grounds….it was still open! It shut down in 1978.” She also said it wasn’t nearly as cute and charming as these old photos….apparently it was rather run down. AND apparently there are photos of us riding on one of the little rides somewhere back home! (I swear we snuck in though…maybe in the later years after it shut down?? hee)

  3. Dottie says

    OK–this made me giggle! I love the tight hierarchy. Your mom is killing me! I’d love to see that photo of you and your brother on the Christmas balls ride. The kitsch-o-meter on this is in the red zone. I love it!

    But that pink frosting on the gingerbread house is just too perfect for words.

  4. lishyloo says

    i love that you have this in your arsenal of not only photos but LIFE EXPERIENCES. i mean, “i am sitting here wondering what to post” and then you have THIS??? DUDE!!

  5. Jenny (VintageSugarcube) says

    Oh my Goodness! Only in Santa Cruz! Freak’n love those pics. I have so many comments that are so not blog-oh-propriate, like what kind of brownies were those elves eating before work..You know they were. Tee hee..

    • Alix says

      HAH! I actually found an awesomely trippy photo of the EASTER BUNNY who apparently made appearances here. I think he made his home near Magic Mushroom Park.

  6. keepingupwithStella says

    Seriously, this place looks amazing! I cannot believe its shut down. Don’t you think it would be a hot spot? I know I would go if it was still open. Last year they shut down this amazing place here called Kiddie Land. It was old school and fabulous. Just when Stella was old enough sure enough its gone. Boo.

  7. heather says

    we used to the the one in big bear all the time when i was a kid. we were just up in big bear and i heard that some of the rides are still on the property…. i wante to sneak in and get photos but we never made it over to see if it was still there!

  8. Nicole says

    JEALOUS! I grew up north of Santa Cruz, in Fremont, CA and somehow wound up in Denver. My husband and I dream of moving to Santa Cruz, seriously, our favorite city on Earth. What an awesome little park and what an awesome memory!

  9. Jillian Gishler says

    I grew up visiting the one in New Hampshire. There is also a Story Land there, celebrating all things related to Nursery Rhyme’s. Both parks are so dear to me, my sisters and I loved them so! I can not wait to bring my baby when she is old enough to enjoy it!

    • Alix says

      Ooh you MUST take photos! We have something called Fairyland here that is a fairy tale park….I’m plotting a trip there for a post too!

  10. Shannon benavidez says

    How fun! We used to go to Santa’s Village in Lake Arrowhead CA. My mom actually worked there when she was a teenager. She made cotton candy. 🙂

  11. Melissa says

    There was also a Santa’s Village in northern Illinois. It shut down about 5 or 6 years ago I think, I used to go there when I was a kid. It looked just like the pictures posted on here… brought back SOOOO many memories!!

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Tweets that mention Vintage Kiddo: Santa’s Village Goes Christmas in August – Modern Kiddo -- linked to this post on August 16, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by alexandra tyler, alexandra tyler. alexandra tyler said: Check out this amazing Summer Time Kitsch at Santa's Village: A 1950s Xmas Theme Park! […]

  2. Friday Link Hootenanny :: Cool Stuff to Browse – Modern Kiddo linked to this post on June 15, 2012

    […] while back I posted about this magical place near Santa Cruz called Santa’s Village. It was this retro wonderland where it was Christmas 365 days a year! Sadly  it was torn down […]

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