Kids everywhere are bursting with excitement because Santa Claus is comin' to town, but in southern Indiana, Santa Claus IS a town.
Forget about 12 days of Christmas. Santa Claus celebrates 12 months of Christmas, but when December rolls around, this tiny, Christmas-themed community really ramps up the wow factor with a holiday extravaganza of family events, light displays and, of course, visits with the jolly guy in the red suit that is the town's namesake.
The population of this rural community is less than 2,500, but its post office receives up to 15,000 letters addressed to Santa Claus every year. Thanks to Santa's Elves, a nonprofit volunteer organization headquartered at Santa Claus Museum and Village, each child's letter is answered.
The original Santa Claus post office, built in 1856, was recently restored and moved to the museum grounds. Young visitors sit at antique school desks in this nonoperational post office and write Santa about what they hope to find under the Christmas tree. All letters get a special Santa Claus postmark.
The museum tells the story of how Santa Claus got its name and became a popular tourist destination.
Land of Lights
It would be a blue Christmas without twinkling lights to brighten the season, so take the family on a mile-long drive through Santa Claus Land of Lights at Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort. Here, the Shining Story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is told through illuminated displays. Driving slowly through a tunnel of multi-colored lights is like floating through an ethereal Christmas rainbow. On the other end are towering, brilliantly lit scenes illustrating how the world's most famous reindeer learned to guide Santa's sleigh.
Those needing a break from the hectic pace of Christmas time in the city can spend a stress-free weekend in one of Rudolph's Christmas cabins on the campground. The Norman Rockwell-like ambience of a rustic cabin nestled in a quiet wooded setting captures the nostalgia of Christmas past.
Santa's Candy Castle
When Chicago accountant Kevin Klosowski bought and renovated historic Santa's Candy Castle six years ago, he reinvented himself as a sort of a real-life Willie Wonka — minus the crazy outfit. He says he has “the greatest job in the world.”
Klosowski doesn't have a chocolate factory, but his vast selection of chocolate confections makes it easy to imagine that he does.
Like Willie Wonka, Klosowski also features candy in an enticing array of wacky flavors. Cookie dough flavored salt water taffy and tart, pucker-inducing green apple popcorn are a couple of his more exotic offerings.