SANTA CLAUS HAUS BECKONS

Kids of all ages can visit St. Nick year-round

Elf Ally and Santa with Santa’s sleigh, “Silent Night”

One of the most unusual gifts ever requested was from a little boy, about 6 years old, who said he wanted a stick for Christmas,” Santa shared. “I asked him what he was going to do with a stick, and he said he was going to make a guitar.”

Santa’s favorite memories of Christmas are plentiful, and many include the children who stop to see him and share the magic.

“I’m also asked many times for things that Santa just cannot do, so I suggest we pray about those things. If they approve, we start praying right there. Some people say I am the ‘Praying Santa,’ but I just believe that’s what Santa is about.”

“I’m also asked many times for things that Santa just cannot do, so I suggest we pray about those things. If they approve, we start praying right there. Some people say I am the ‘Praying Santa,’ but I just believe that’s what Santa is about.”

These wonderful thoughts of Christmas, and the strong feeling that America’s Christmas Hometown, otherwise known as Santa Claus, Indiana, needed to have a Santa available to the entire community year-round, led to the idea of Santa Claus Haus.

Nestled behind the fire station in Santa Claus, Indiana, Santa Claus Haus is currently located at 200 Patricia Koch Drive, within the Santa Claus Community Center, but the plan doesn’t stop there.

When the COVID-19 pandemic basically kept Santa himself out of the town in 2020, Santa began to dream. One of the businesses had decided not to have Santa during the usual time frame of May through December, and instead planned only a couple weeks in July and then for parts of November and December. Another location decided to have only a “virtual” Santa. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic basically kept Santa himself out of the town in 2020, Santa began to dream. One of the businesses had decided not to have Santa during the usual time frame of May through December, and instead planned only a couple weeks in July and then for parts of November and December. Another location decided to have only a “virtual” Santa. 

This bothered Santa, he said, because “I have become quite fond of this community over the years and have a passion for it, and its beginnings. After a couple of very restless weeks, I came up with an idea.”

It was his dream for Santa to not belong to any one particular entity or business. He needed his own place where everyone could comfortably visit with Santa and have their photo taken or stop by for a chat with a feeling as though they had walked into Santa’s living room for a visit. 

He also knew that the venture had to be a nonprofit, so it could exist in perpetuity. It would have to meet the gold-seal standards of nonprofit 501(c)3 corporations.

“I started talking to several people about the idea and where this could possibly be located for now,” Santa explained. “During the process, I did not find one person who was negative about the idea. In fact, I found several people who were very enthusiastic about it.” Those enthusiastic people were then asked to serve on the fledgling Board of Directors. Several declined, but some wholeheartedly agreed. The board has understandably undergone some changes this past year, as people discovered it was initially going to take more time than they could offer.

Originally incorporated under the name of Santa Claus House, the group soon realized that there was already one under that same name located in North Pole, Alaska, but after a few quick calls, the name was changed to Santa Claus Haus, which is very fitting in a predominantly German-heritage community.

Even though there have been a few minor changes as the plan took shape, the group’s original mission has pretty much stayed the same from the beginning. 

“To ensure that Santa is available to serve the community year-round, to assist in supporting other charities, especially those that have to do with the health and welfare of children; to assist wherever welcomed and to enhance other businesses and events in the community.”

Santa explained, “Our Mission Statement is simply this: ‘To ensure that Santa is available to serve the community year-round, to assist in supporting other charities, especially those that have to do with the health and welfare of children; to assist wherever welcomed and to enhance other businesses and events in the community.” He also added that ‘the community” includes all of the surrounding area.

“We want families and tourists who visit to experience Santa here in Santa Claus, Indiana, which is also Santa’s first permanent home in North America established between 1852-1856, depending on what records you’re checking.”

“As a group, we would like everyone to have the opportunity to include Santa at their different events. Our role as a nonprofit charity is to raise enough money to keep it happening for many decades to come.”

Santa Claus Haus also has a gift shop, which includes some items from national suppliers, but the focus is on local talent and products that can be offered.

The long-range vision is to someday have a free-standing structure that would really give the feeling of walking into Santa’s house. It would be a big building so Santa’s living room would be larger than it is now, with a larger gift shop, and perhaps maybe even a small coffee shop that would offer home-baked pastries. 

The long-range vision is to someday have a free-standing structure that would really give the feeling of walking into Santa’s house. It would be a big building so Santa’s living room would be larger than it is now, with a larger gift shop, and perhaps maybe even a small coffee shop that would offer home-baked pastries. 

Another idea would be to have a roadside attraction next to the Haus that would not require someone to be there all the time. Details on this plan are being kept as a surprise for the future.

Additionally, they would also like to have a building to house the “International Santa Claus Hall of Fame,” which is just in virtual existence currently. 

Each day, he checks “Santa’s Nice List,” writes the date and updates the “days until Christmas.” As each child comes to visit, they write their first name and hometown on the list. Santa will then always know what day each child came to see him.

Without hesitation, Santa said that the favorite part of his day is when Santa Claus Haus opens. Each day, he checks “Santa’s Nice List,” writes the date and updates the “days until Christmas.” As each child comes to visit, they write their first name and hometown on the list. Santa will then always know what day each child came to see him.

In addition to being at Santa Claus Haus each Tuesday through Saturday, you’ll also get to see Santa and his sleigh, Silent Knight, at local events, such as parades and fests. His updated plans can be found each morning on their Facebook page. You can also see his calendar of events on the website at santaclaushaus.org. 

Santa was inducted into the “International Santa Claus Hall of Fame” in 2017. There are some other very important people inducted into from the area, as well. The inaugural Class of 2010 includes Santas Jim Yellig and Ray Jochum. In 2014, James Martin, Santa Claus, Indiana’s first postmaster, who began answering letters to Santa in 1914, was inducted. In 2015, Patricia Koch was also inducted.

“I feel very honored to be listed in the same category as these greats, and it is quite humbling as well,” Santa said.

“I think my biggest inspiration comes from the looks on children’s faces when they see me.  Children can be as old as 99.” 

“I think my biggest inspiration comes from the looks on children’s faces when they see me.” And, he noted, “Children can be as old as 99.”   

Reflecting on what is next for the organization, Santa said, “We know that we don’t have enough space now, so we are going to be getting ourselves firmly planted and financially sound in what I would call Phase 1. Phase 2 will be locating property that will be as central to the downtown area as possible and building our own place that will go on forever.”

Anyone wishing to get involved as a volunteer is welcome to stop by and speak to the gift shop manager or visit the website. Tax-deductible donations can also be made via the website, or by stopping by.

The gift shop hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Central time. But even when Santa Claus Haus is closed, the spirit and magic of Christmas is present. Sundays are a day reserved for volunteers to worship as they choose, and to also spend time with family and friends. On Mondays, Santa takes the time to visit nursing homes, hospitals and hospice patients. 

Santa sums it all up in one simple sentiment: “The reason for the season is daily.” •

For more information, go to santaclaushaus.org or  facebook.com/Santa-Claus-Haus, or call 812-626-4287 (HAUS).

Story by Carol Ubelhor-Troesch // Photos by Hope Davis

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