It’s June, it’s either warm or downright hot in the American Midwest, and in case you haven’t noticed, Christmas is about six months away.
But the holiday spirit abounds every day of the year in Santa Claus, Indiana, a town of 2,500 people, one traffic light and a lot of holiday lights and tinsel.
It’s the summer home, sort of, of Saint Nicholas, the holiday’s iconic patron. It’s not just a one-stop gift shop and post office that stamps souvenir postmarks in places such as North Pole, Alaska.
Santa Claus, Indiana, is a complete town, with a Santa Claus police department, Santa Claus fire department, Santa Claus hardware store and three nice lakes: Lake Holly, Christmas Lake, and Lake Noel.
A carillon at the town hall plays Christmas carols 12 months a year, and a lot of people leave their Christmas decorations up at home all year, too.
Mostly inside, since the heavy rain in thunderstorms this time of year tends to knock down the outdoor displays.
Imagine walking through your front door day after day, year after year, and passing a Christmas tree, a model train, and maybe cookies for Santa’s elves. People do it all the time in Santa Claus, Indiana.
The place got its name 160 years ago. The story goes that the town founders were meeting in a church on Christmas Eve, trying to come up with a name.
A church bell sounded, a child yelled out “Santy Claus!” Everybody laughed, and before they knew it, they had voted to call their community “Santa Claus.”
Today you can find T-shirts in town that read, “I believe in Santa Claus,” which, of course, has a double meaning.
Local attractions include Santa’s Candy Castle, Frosty’s Fun Center, Santa’s Stables, and a theme park called “Holiday World.” It’s not big like Disneyland, but it has kiddie rides, water slides, wave pools, and a classic wooden roller coaster.
The irony is, Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana, is closed for the winter.