Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa Claus Lane, California

Today I'm featuring photos of a classic California roadside attraction that's extinctified - Santa Claus Lane! Located in Carpinteria, just south of Santa Barbara, Santa Claus Lane featured a strip of Christmas-themed shops, restaurants, and kiddie rides.


Here's a bit of history: A Man named Patrick McKeon was responsible. His family bought the roadside property from lima bean farmer in 1948. A juice stand stood there, a place with only five stools, and McKeon dreamed up a way to play off the region's "Santa" towns - Santa Barbara, Santa Paula, Santa Ynez, and Santa Monica. He called the little juice stand Santa Claus. Zillions of motorists traveling along the 101 freeway could see the big Santa atop the main building. Here he is in 1952...


Now I'm in the mood for some olives, and I don't even like olives. By 1960, there were novelty shops, cafes, a miniature train, a wishing well, a candy store, and a 20 foot high Frosty the Snowman was added to the roof of Santa's Kitchen.


By 2002, the place had seen better days; Frosty had been gone (melted?) for a long time, and Santa was in need of a lot of TLC. The new owner of the shop with Santa on the roof decided that the Christmas theme had to go, believing that for all the people who came to SCL because of Santa, just as many kept on driving. When you pass Santa Claus Lane these days, there is nothing whimsical to beckon the hungry or curious; there are new businesses in perfectly unremarkable buildings.

Luckily, concerned citizens saved the Santa sculpture; he was moved to a lot in Oxnard, and lovingly restored. 300 people were there at his dedication, and you can still see him if you are driving north on the 101. I waved to him just yesterday on my way up to my sister's house!

9 comments:

Nancy said...

a very cool story...

thanks for all the great ones you have told us this year, and im wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!

luv and peace, Nancy

theelfqueen said...

That's really neat!

Connie Moreno said...

What? It's gone? Somebody needs to slap that new owner and I volunteer. What a jerk. The last time I stopped there was in the 70's and I remember thinking that I had to go back when I had some more mula to spend in the shops.

Oh well....I gotta go slap me somebody!

Chuck said...

Connie - If you need to slap somebody right now, I'm available for the next 15 minutes or so.

spends2much said...

Thanx for the pix. It's been such a long time since I've been there. My ex's aunt owned the toy store for all those years and when he was a little boy he used to spend a lot of time up there. Imagine the fun he had. Luckily my own kids got to go up there several times before it went under. Such a sad loss!!!
Merry Christmas everyone.

Chris Jepsen said...

I've been seeing that Santa all my life (first in one location, and then in the other) and didn't know the background. Thanks as always! And merry Christmas too!

Anonymous said...

I live in Santa Barbara and really miss Santa. it was always part of driving home seeing him there.

Anonymous said...

WOW I wish i could go back 40 years in time. I remember my dad taking me and my sister there for lunch now and then, plus a ride in the kid size train was THE BEST!

Brett in Portland

Steve Schlah said...

FYI Santa Claus (the 2nd one) is now between in El Rio, between Oxnard and Camarillo on US 101 and the Snowman is in a private "collection"
in an auto "graveyard" near Lockwood Valley on Hwy 33, north of Ojai. O saw the "Snowman" 3 weeks ago.