20¢ Santa Claus
Issue Date: October 28, 1983
City: Santa Claus, IN
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Photogravure
Designed by John Berkley, this Christmas stamp shows a close-up view of that pudgy, jolly old elf with the twinkle in his eye – Santa Claus. However, this familiar concept of St. Nicholas is an American creation, first designed by cartoonist Thomas Nast. Previously, artists had depicted Santa Claus as a thin, serious-looking man who used one horse - instead of eight tiny reindeer - to travel on Christmas Eve.
America’s First Theme Park
On August 3, 1946, the first themed amusement park in America opened in Santa Claus, Indiana. While there are older amusement parks, Santa Claus Land is often considered the first theme park.
The idea of Santa Claus Land came from Evansville, Indiana, industrialist Louis J. Koch. Koch visited the small town of Santa Claus in 1941 and noted the disappointment that many children felt when they found out that Santa wasn’t there. Koch then resolved to establish a park where children could visit Santa all year.
World War II delayed Koch’s plans, but construction was able to begin on August 4, 1945. And a year later, the park opened to the public on August 3, 1946. The park didn’t charge admission and included a Santa, a toyshop and toy displays, a restaurant, and Christmas-themed rides. Soon, families from around the country traveled to the park so their children could meet Santa Claus.
In the coming years, the park grew to include the first Jeep-Go-Round ever created. They first charged admission in 1955 – 50¢ for adults – but children still got in for free. After several successful decades, the Koch family realized that there were more theme possibilities they could include in their park. So in 1984, they expanded Santa Claus Land to include Halloween and Fourth of July sections, and renamed the park Holiday World. In recent years the park expanded further to include a Thanksgiving section and a waterpark. Today the park is home to some of the most popular roller coasters in the world.
Wondering why this town was called Santa Claus?
It’s actually related to stamps! When the town was first established in 1854, it was called Santa Fe. However, when they wanted to establish a post office two years later they were rejected because there was already a Santa Fe, Indiana. So after several town meetings, the citizens decided on Santa Claus, Indiana. Today, it’s the only post office in the world to bear this name, and receives thousands of letters every year from children around the globe. And since 1914, a volunteer group known as Santa’s Elves ensures each child gets a reply from Santa.
Click here to see lots of neat vintage photos from the park.
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