Saturday, December 08, 2018

Santa's Village, New Hampshire, October 1973

I think it is high time that I posted something with a holiday flavor, don't you? Luckily for me, I already had a small batch of slides from Jefferson, New Hampshire's "Santa's Village" all scanned and ready to go. They aren't beautiful, but... there are six of them.

If you didn't believe that Santa lived here, you can rest easy now that you've seen this impressive sign in the parking lot. That poor woman has risked "frost bite butt", but it was worth it for this photo. On the other side of the snow bank, shiny reindeer stand still as only woodland creatures can.

Don't ask me what happened to the color on this one; I was watching cartoons the whole time. Santa's good friend the Easter Bunny has come to visit! Who knew he was so large? 

Santa's Village debuted on Father's Day in 1953, thanks to a brainstorm by Norman and Cecile Dubois. Initially there were pony rides, "elves", and reindeer and other critters, and it was only open from June to October.

A life-sized manger scene is there to pacify any visitors who might be upset at the idea of a Christmas-themed park with no religious iconography. And who doesn't like a good crèche? I know I do. The angels up in the trees are a nice touch.

Wikipedia sez: By 1969, the park also had playgrounds, restaurants, and a "Jingle Jamboree". The Dubois family added a dancing chicken and rabbit performance to the park's activities.[4] By 1974, the Dubois' son-in-law, Michael Gaynor, took over the park's management after the couple retired. The admission for people over four years old in 1974 was $3.[3] Peggy Newland of The Nashua Telegraph wrote in 2010 that "[b]y the 1980s, the park had grown to a 'real' amusement park".[4] The park was further expanded, with a "Yule Log Flume" that glided down a Christmas-themed river, carrying people around the park. Macaws performed in the park, roller-skating around the stage and balancing bikes on a tightrope.

Oh boy, after I have my picture taken in that sleigh, I'm going to open every one of those presents under the tree! After all, I called "dibs" before anyone else. I see a wishing well, maybe I'll toss in a nickel and wish for MORE presents.

Since this view is from the parking lot, the igloos must be the entrance and exit for the park - initially I thought that the building might be where Santa lived. Like Mr. Freeze, he needs snow and ice to live (after being bitten by a radioactive reindeer). 

Happily, Santa's Village is still with us today!


Nanook said...

NOW I feel the Xmas season has truly begun-! I'm afraid the "snow" in the first image has all the authenticity of that as seen in a typical Hallmark movie... cheesy. And talk about scary Easter bunnies - wow-!

I'm afraid anything called a "Yule Log Flume" is just asking for trouble (or a healthy dose of sarcasm, at the very least).

I was kinda thinking the 'In' & 'Out' igloos were the entrance/exit to the magic restrooms. Brrrr....

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

Interestingly this Santa's Village opened before Glen Holland's franchise of three Santa's Village Christmas themed amusement parks in Skyforest, CA, Scotts Valley, CA and Dundee, IL and has thrived, unlike Mr. Holland's parks.

Love the icy billboard sign with the big Santa in the first pic. The skies above give it that extra icy chill that only Victor Fries would love.

In the second pic it looks like an outdoor stage is out of view to the right from the evidence of bleachers on the lawn.

I do enjoy the nativity at Christmas time. The fact that this one is life size makes it extra cool. I once saw a living nativity as a child that even included live animals, but I can't remember where.

I appreciate the older family operated parks like this. Even better if the same family still owns and manages it. Thanks, Major.

JC Shannon said...

I love these local mom and pop operations. In post war America these way cool family fun parks were popping up everywhere. I wanna go right now. Nanook, I was watching a Hallmark Christmas movie when I read your post. Oowee oowee oowee, coincidence? I think not, great minds, I say! I am totally in the Christmas mood now. Major, thanks for the cool pics.

Matthew said...

Happened to come into work today... and found myself taking a break here at Gorillas Don't Blog.

Is it me or does Sunday's hours of operation looks suspiciously like Monday thru Saturday's hours of operation? Something just ain't right. Huh?

I would have to agree with Nanook on that whole "Yule Log Flume" thing. I could only imagine that they douse it in lighter fluid and set it a blaze as you ride only to be put out just in the nick of time (make that St. Nick of time) by riding down the large 35 foot drop to the splash down.

Enough of this... back to work.

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle

Sunday Night said...

Never got to this Santa's Village but did visit the one in Sky Forest a few times as a little kid. They had a sleigh ride pulled by real reindeer!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, yes, with today’s post, the world can rejoice! Christmas has officially begun. I don’t care if Target has been selling Christmas stuff for two months. I like your restroom theory, but man, those are some sizeable bathrooms if true!

K. Martinez, I had to look up “Victor Fries”… so much for my comic book knowledge. I assumed that the bleachers were for puppet shows, or perhaps the “chicken and rabbit performances”. I went to Radio City Music Hall for one of their “Christmas Spectaculars”, and they had live animals onstage, even camels.

Jonathan, these small parks were definitely trying to bring in the post-war suburban families (mom, dad, and 2.5 kids). And their wallets. It’s kind of astonishing just how many parks sprang up in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s! Surely the vast majority of them are long-gone now, sadly.

Matthew, working on a Saturday?! You’ll fall behind on all of the cartoons! I wonder if Santa’s Village felt the need to emphasize that they would be open on Sundays? There were plenty of businesses in the old days that would be closed (“Blue Laws”). And oh man, do I love the idea of a flaming yule log going down a flume! I don’t want to be ON the ride, but just think how neat it would look at night?

Melissa said...

There's something about that billboard Santa's posture and facial expression that's more "propping up the bar at the local saloon and ogling anything in a skirt" than "welcome to my magical world of whimsy and wonder."

And that Easter Bunny has NO sense of timing. Or maybe he's the Jack Frost Rabbit.

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-
Definitely have to agree with you about 'ol Saint Nick [wink-wink-!] Also - extra points for the use of the alliterative "W's"-!

And for those grammarians out there... days of the week never use apostrophes in the plural form. "Sunday's" (sic). For shame, Santa.

Melissa said...

Well, Willy Wonka! If I'd realized what I was doing with all the W's, I'd have changed "magical" to "wacky," "wild," "weird," or something.

TokyoMagic! said...

I'm glad to hear that this Santa's Village is still around today. The comments had me taking a closer look at that sign in the parking lot. I just noticed that the letters for the word "Santa's" were made too big and wouldn't quite fit on the sign panel, so they had to raise that first "S" off of the sign a little and mount it partially onto the frame.

In the pic with the nativity scene, there is some kind of coin operated food dispenser on the far left. There appear to be ducks in the water and on the shore, so perhaps the food was for feeding them. It reminds me of similar machines at Knott's Lagoon and Japanese Village for feeding the foul and the deer.

Anonymous said...

@Melissa, Santa definitely giving some babe in the woods the side eye. Someone should paint a highball into his left hand and a cigarette in his right.

I wonder if the separate "Sunday" hours might be changed out to "closed" or reduced hours seasonally?

Thanks Major, as always, seeing these local parks is a lot of fun, and sad to see that they are closed.


Anonymous said...

I remember Santa's Village as if it were yesterday, even though it was the early 70s when my parents took me to NH to see this and bears climbing things and other New Hampshire fare. Meanwhile all of my friends were going to the beach and I felt so gyped. Until I got older and realized that the beach memories kind of fade into one blur but that visiting Santa's Village and watching men wrestle bears that also raced each other up trees was a MUCH better vacation in retrospect than I appreciated at the time. God Bless my parents and God Bless the people who had the vision that cheesy isn't always a bad thing. I will be taking my kids to Santa's Village now. Road we come!