The sky’s the limit

The lack of a Voyage construction update lately doesn’t mean work isn’t getting done … it just means the gloomy skies don’t provide for the sharpest photos.

Indeed, as Jacob, our marketing intern, ventured forth into the sunshine this week, he came across quite a bit of progress.

Here’s that three-story coaster station:
And here’s a look at The Voyage. On the right, you’re heading down Hill #2 and then heading up Hill #3.

The trackers are hard at work on Hill #3.

No one appreciates the warmer temps more!

And here are the footers poured for the turnaround portion of the ride.

Finally, this is the drop into the turnaround:
Time to head out for Christmas break, so please understand there won’t be regular posts for a week or so.

From all of us here at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari — a very merry Christmas to all of you and your families!

You’d better watch out!

Here's Jim Anderson's radio story from today's newscast on WBDC-FM:

One just never knows when one might meet one of Santa's Helpers…and at the Vigo County School Corporation, there is a Hoosier Prairie fifth grader who will think twice before he starts to spread unfounded rumors about Santa Claus…and he'll probably think once more before believing his own story…now that he has the facts.

The older student decided it was time to tell a first grader at the school's after-hours program…well, he was going to tell him that there is no Santa Claus.

That was indeed his plan, but a supervisor at the after-school program interceded and warned him to be careful about the "knowledge" he was about to share…

While everyone may believe as they choose, Julie Anderson explained to students that she not only believed in Santa — she actually worked with Santa Claus!

Anderson spent her last nine summers at Holiday World, earning money for college and was well prepared for the questions that followed…after all, one summer she personally escorted Santa out in the park.

So exactly how did she know he was Santa Claus?

What proof did she have?

Well, apparently Santa is ready for Indiana's new Voter Identification Program, because right there on the Jolly Elf's driver's license is his name, Santa Claus.

That name is also featured on his check book and his credit cards.

So believe as you will, but don't be surprised if Santa has picked up another believer at the Hoosier Prairie Elementary School.

You might notice the supervisor in the story has the same last name as the news director. Julie is indeed Jim's daughter.

And there's no doubt that she will forever be listed in Santa's "Good Girls" book.

Our answer to the Christmas debate

Have you been following all the fuss? About whether it’s a Christmas tree or a “holiday tree”? Not a terribly new debate, sadly.

We had to go back seven years to find this, but thought it was worth dusting off. Back in 1998, we were approached by a national newspaper chain to write a “counter-point” opinion piece about one man’s push to have Christmas removed from the list of national holidays.

He was suing the government in an attempt to turn December 25 into just another day here in the U.S.

Here’s the reply, from Mrs. Koch, that was printed:

Point/Counter Point

Dear Santa, I have been trying to be good this year but my little sister gets me in trouble. I hope you give me lots of toys this year. I’ll be happy with anything you give me this year. Your friend, Bubby B.

Dear Santa, I what my dad to be smarter. Love, Robbie D.

Dear Santa, I have been a very, very good gril this year. I want your picer. Your friend, Annessa P.S. Go to Mrs. Johnson’s house to get me a cat. She has lots of them.

Dear Santa, I like board games. I promise to leave you some cookies and milk. Oh, don’t forget to turn off the TV this year, you forgot to last year. From your friend, Michael

Santa's ElvesAs thick as snowflakes in a blizzard the letters come, year after year, as children send their letters to Santa Claus.

Somehow these letters find their way to the tiny post office in Santa Claus, Indiana, from all around the world even though at times the address is simply “Santa Claus, USA,” with a colorful sticker where a 32-cent stamp should be.

Somehow the harried postal workers see to it that the letters get to Santa Claus in time. And somehow this town provides enough volunteers to make sure that each of the thousands of letters receives a personal reply from one of Santa’s Elves. Everyone is busy, everyone has shopping and cooking and wrapping to do. But the sweet and sometimes sad letters from children from all over the world are too important to ignore.

Christmas is about children. Although we Americans sometimes complain about the commercialism of the holidays, we must look beyond the hustle-bustle and into the eyes of our nation’s children, for it is there that we will rediscover the true spirit of the season.

Children understand Christmas. They know it’s about believing.

It’s about sharing and loving and giving from the heart. As adults, it’s about gathering the little ones in your lap and telling them about what you asked Santa to bring you (back in the dark ages when you had to walk eight miles to school in ten feet of snow). It’s giggling as three generations try to remember the gift given on the eleventh day of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and blinking back tears of tender love as the tiniest grandchild recites the names of Santa’s reindeers.

It’s taking time off from work and school to be home with loved ones. It’s breaking bread together, and giving thanks for family, good health, and for the blessings of living in America. It’s a time to donate to a good cause, to prepare meals for the less fortunate, to bring flowers to a shut-in.

Thousands of children visit Santa Claus, Indiana, during their summer vacation each year to get an early visit with the town’s namesake. As they climb up into his lap, there are no questions about religious or ethnic background. The only questions are: “Have you been good this year? And what would you like Santa to bring you?” Nothing political, nothing controversial, simply a quiet conversation between a little child and kindly old gentleman.

During the years when Americans have been overseas at war, the bombs stopped while soldiers from both sides gratefully celebrated the Christmas holiday. There was no question of religion for these cease-fires, but a universal agreement that on December 25th there would be no war.

Can a holiday with the power to halt wars not be a national treasure? Christmas is as American as the 4th of July. It should be celebrated by all who wish to recapture the belief and hope of a small and trusting child.

Patricia A. Koch
Santa Claus, Indiana

Don’t … uh, snow on my parade

Look who’s getting ready for tomorrow’s “Christmas in Santa Claus” parade:

No, Holidog doesn’t have his license yet, but we let him pretend there for a minute.

The parade here in town begins at noon.

The roads are nice and clear, in spite of yesterday’s smorgasbord of winter weather.

Bundle up, though; we don’t all have Holidog’s furry coat.

Holidog has been a good little correruffspondent. He gets in touch after each holiday to let us know how he spent it.

Look who he dressed up as for Halloween:

And for Thanksgiving, Holidog dug up some roots — his!

In this rather obscure article he sent us, Holidog shows it was his ancestor who introduced the one of the most traditional (and tasty) side dishes to the first Thanksgiving table.

In case you can’t quite make out the caption under the photo, here’s what it says:

Figure 5.6a
The Colony of Plymouth’s second governor, William Bradford, accepts toothpicks and ambrosia from Squanto and Holidog Wahksontoopahs in 1621. Thanksgiving is generally viewed as a meal symbolizing the peaceful co-existence between the pilgrims and Native Americans in the New World. It is important to note, however, that after tasting the ambrosia, Governor Bradford uttered the phrase “man’s best friend” for the first time, sealing the canine’s historical role in Thanksgiving menu planning.
Sketch Courtesy of the New England Historical Pets Society

What’s that on the webcam?

We moved the focus of the webcam slightly yesterday, and have received a number of guesses about what that building will be.

Take a look:

The location is slightly south and east of The Voyage.

No, it’s not the station for the new coaster.

Nor is it anything involving Gobbler Getaway, Bahari River, or Plymouth Rock Cafe.

What’s left?

The Thanksgiving Pepsi Oasis building.

And (leave it to those clever engineers) the building will also include restrooms.

It helps to have an understanding spouse

Thought you’d get a kick out of this, from my pal Mike in Louisville:

I had just turned off the lights last night and I said, “Five months from tomorrow!”

I thought my wife, Michelle, was asleep but she was not. She asked me what I was talking about.

I told her Holiday World opens for the 2006 season then.

She chuckled and said when she heard me she thought about our anniversary, no that did not fit, her birthday, close but no fit. But of course, it is December, I am just going to bed after a long day, I am in my warm bed with my lovely wife and I am thinking of Holiday World and the premiere of The Voyage.

I think she is jealous.

Profiling Santa

One of the travel writers we hosted last summer has landed quite a “hit.”

Jackie wrote a feature for American Profile magazine, which has a circulation of five million. Click here to see the article.

The “Christmas in Santa Claus” festival she mentions is lots of fun. If you’d like to take a look at the schedule of events for this weekend, click here.

And here’s another reminder…children may write to Santa at the following address: Santa Claus, PO Box 1, Santa Claus IN 47579. As long as the child’s return address is legible and the letter is received by early Christmas week, he or she will receive a personalized letter back from Santa. (Santa’s Elves help, of course.)

And Mrs. Koch would want me to be sure to pass along that the Letters from Santa are free. Somebody showed her a $10.95 online version a few years ago and we were able to toast marshmallows over the flames that came out of her ears.

Mmm … anyone else in the mood for s’mores?

Whatever the weather

I just looked out the door and said the following to Rick:

Good night, Nellie! How much snow are we supposed to get?


(No, Rick wasn't trying to be funny. And yes, I really do say goofy things like "Good night, Nellie" and "Sweet mother of pearl.")

It's not in the forecast, but we're getting a lovely, heavy snowfall this morning.

Happy Saint Nicholas Day!

I'll be sure to dial up and push the button for the webcam's windshield wiper several times today.

Meanwhile, weather will be the topic this evening when Will does a phone interview with the folks at Severe Weather Central. One of the hosts for the weekly online program is a coaster enthusiast (a remarkable coincidence); he thought it would be fun to talk with Will about weather, how it affects the operation of a theme and water park, and…maybe, The Voyage. If there's time.

(Sorry, this interview is no longer available online.)

And if you hear Christmas music in the background when Will is speaking, it means our high school band concert is running long and he's in the hallway outside the auditorium.

Yuletide multi-tasking is a useful skill.

Dig it

Construction for Bahari River is underway.

To clear up any confusion, Bahari River is not replacing the Congo River. We’ll have two rivers to float in next season.

Bahari River will be wider than the Congo (20 feet versus 14 feet).

Bahari River will be longer than the Congo (1,100 feet versus 750 feet).

Bahari River will travel through a canyon.

The canyon will include a lovely waterfall.

Got your bearings? That’s Bahari Snacks and Bahari in the background.

Meanwhile, Rachel (did I mention Baby #3 is on the way in early ’06?) ventured out to the construction site, too.

She’s a remarkable woman, that Rachel. It’s really, really cold today, but she wanted to go take some construction photos.

Here’s where the structure of The Voyage will connect up with the station.

The station is enormous. It’ll be three stories tall with some interesting features we’ll talk about later.

And here is the latest look at Hill #3.

I’m feeling really guilty right now. Excuse me while I go get Rachel (and sweet little Eli) some hot chocolate.