Any clues to this Claus?

This is the new background photo for our Twitter page.

I guess I watched too many episodes of Monk this weekend. I'd love to figure out what year this was taken:

Santa Claus Land
Happy faceOkay. So we know this was shot before we became
Holiday World, so it's 1983 or earlier, right?

I think two clues are the happy-face scarf
the girl on the left is wearing:

Groovy slacks
…and the boy's groovy slacks.

Late '60s or early '70s?

Come on, fess up — what did you wear back then? Surely this photo brings back memories.

And if you weren't even alive back then, you might think twice about gloating too much. Remember, we know where Santa keeps his "Good Boys & Girls" book.

It’s not always all about us

There's a really cool Twitter application called "TweetBeep."

Basically, it's a real-time search function. I signed up and asked it to send me an email to let me know any time someone tweets about Holiday World. (Twitter, as you may recall, is a "microblogging" program. You're limited to a maximum of 140 characters for each post, or "tweet.")

It's helpful, as it directs me to folks who are talking about or asking questions about Holiday World. I try not to barge in on conversations, but sometimes it feels appropriate and is welcomed.

I think I'll leave this one alone, though:

As if to welcome me back to the post-holiday world, the cat puked as soon as I got up.

Did the pilgrims have chocolate cake?

Every year, a week or so before Thanksgiving, I poll my family:

What would you like for dessert next Thursday?

Surely the traditional pumpkin pie, apple cobbler, bread pudding and pecan tarts are on the list…

In my culinary dreams.

Chocolate cake. That's all they want.

And so each year I make a Thanksgiving Chocolate Cake. Because I'm thankful for my guys.

I'm thankful that my husband puts up with the crazy hours I work. I'm thankful that my older sons (ages 17 and 24) connect to me as "friends" on Facebook, even though it seems a little weird. And I'm thankful that James, 9, reads aloud to me, even if it's a Pokemon book.

Yesterday, I emailed our staff. I guess I should have asked them what they're thankful for this year. But instead I asked them what dish they most look forward to on Thanksgiving.

Incredibly, no one smarted off by replying "satellite dish." I may be clueless when it comes to sports, but there's surely some sort of game on Thursday, right?

Anyway, here are the responses:

Joe, IT: The dressing.

Eric, Admissions: My favorite dish is usually sweet potatoes. Last year I volunteered to bring sweet potato casserole. Sweetened with pineapple, I must say it is delicious. My oldest sister asked what was in it. She stopped mid bite when she learned that she was eating the one fruit that she is allergic to. I had no clue! Fortunately she didn't swell up and was able to finish her meal.

Jodie, Warehouse: Stuffing!

(So…is it "stuffing" or "dressing"? Is this a regional thing? They're the same thing, right? My family has always called it stuffing.)

Mrs. Koch: My favorite is my Mom, Isabelle Yellig’s dressing. It is the best. I had to stand and watch her make it because she did not have a written recipe. I remember she always asked a butcher to save chicken necks and backs and gizzards for the broth and she cooked them to make a rich broth and then put them through a hand grinder. The eggs had to be room temperature, not cold, because she said the dressing would not be fluffy if the eggs were too cold. The bread had to be broken and left out in the open air in a pan one or two days before making the dressing so it would be firm. I make it at Thanksgiving and Christmas and it is good.

Tori, Rides: Homemade noodles with mashed potatoes.

Lori, Splashin' Safari: My Grandmother’s Squash Pie! It is a spin off of the traditional pumpkin pie, but she makes it out of squash (usually butternut). One year, my Grandmother entered a pumpkin pie contest with her squash pie and won! Grandma will be 98 years old in a couple of months and I completely expect her have a pie waiting for me this Thursday!

Tim, Coaster Maintenance: My favorite dish is my Aunt’s seven layer salad and my favorite dessert is my mom’s pecan pie.

Andy, Marketing: I LOVE stuffing and peanut butter pie, but that's just me…

(Now, Andy … have to ask: the stuffing and the pie are separate, right? The "that's just me" threw me…)

Matt, GM/Shared Services: Thanksgiving is about gluttony, so I cannot pick just one. Broccoli & Cheese Casserole, Pumpkin Cheesecake, 7 Layer Salad.

Andrea, Print Shop: The part of the meal I could never live without is the turkey and the pumpkin pie. It must be a family thing because my sister who lives in Geneva, Switzerland, feels the same way about the pumpkin pie. Even though she has dual citizenship Thanksgiving is the one American holiday she cannot live without. Every year she spends either the weekend before or after our Thanksgiving holiday with American friends in Germany (it is not a holiday in Switzerland or Germany therefore they don't have Thursday off). She makes the pumpkin pie which is a big ordeal. The Swiss don't have canned pumpkin. Apparently they only use small amounts of cubed pumpkin in some soups. She has to buy enough cubes bake them, remove the rind, and put the rest in the blender to make the pumpkin for the pie. In all my years of making pumpkin pie only once did I use a whole pumpkin to make the "guts" for the pie. It did have a little different taste, but not enough to go through the process every year when we are blessed with the presence of canned pumpkin. I am "thankful" for many things, but I suppose one of them is canned pumpkin. Happy Thanksgiving!


Young advice with a month to go

Just had a media request for some of Mrs. Koch's favorite Letters to Santa from over the years.

This one is priceless.

Albeit bossy.

Bossy letter to Santa
Checked the calendar lately? One month till Christmas.

Favorite quote from the week

Park people really are a lot of fun. We've laughed all week. Learned a lot, too, but had a lot of fun.

I hope my week of tweets from Orlando provided a vicarious chuckle or two. Every time I had my cell phone out, someone would ask, "Are you twittering again?"

I usually was.

I never did post my favorite comment from the week. This story actually comes from Matt, our GM/Shared Services.

Matt was attending the "What's New Theater," which is more or less the kick-off ceremony for the week-long expo. It includes a great production involving, as the name implies, the new rides and technology to watch for in the industry throughout the coming year.

As our animation for Pilgrims Plunge came on the huge screen, Matt heard someone sitting behind him mumble the following:

Those people just ain't right.

The campground next door

Lots of folks assume we own Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort.

We don't.

But we're kin.

Will's younger brother Philip owns and operates Lake Rudolph, which just won a big award.

The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds name Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort the 2008/09 "National RV Park of the Year."

RV Park of the Year

There's Philip in the middle, holding the award. That's Dave (marketing guy) on the left and Wayne (GM guy) on the right. They're flanked by the association president and chair.

This is also the 50th anniversary of the campground. Philip and Will's dad, Bill, got it all started half a century ago.

Here's a trip down memory lane, starting with a shot no doubt taken from Santa's sleigh:

Lake Rudolph archive photo
See Santa waving hello (or good-bye) by the sign?

Lake Rudolph archive photo
I love this guy … who parked right next to the "no parking" sign.

Lake Rudolph archive photo
…and my personal favorite (no, that's not Philip and Will):

Playing on the beach

Collect much?

Santa Claus Land signWe occasionally hear from folks who collect Santa Claus Land memorabilia.

Mrs. Koch is always interested to find out what's out there, and has even been known to place a bid or two on eBay to add to her collection on display in the Santa Claus Museum here in town.

The one thing that galls her, though, is having to buy back something that was never for sale.

Case in point: the plates from the Christmas Dinning Room (seriously, next time you see her — don't bring it up!).

This is a wonderful article about SCL memorabilia, but I think maybe the photo of the plates may be of some of the … um, contraband.

Face it

Received a lovely compliment the other day during a podcast recording.

The editor of an industry magazine said something kind about how on-top-of the latest social-media technology we are.

I choked down a laugh-snort combination and tried to be gracious in saying thank you and protesting that my personal knowledge is of the enough-to-be-dangerous category.

And here we go again. This time it's Facebook.

Quite honestly, I'm of the generation that used phones that actually plugged into the wall and required dialing. Televisions which you had to actually get up off the couch and touch to change from ABC to NBC to CBS. (That's it kids. Just three networks.) And remember rolling car windows up and down? I recall seeing my first fax machine. Heck, I remember seeing my first color television.

That said, here is our first humble tip-toe into Facebook.

I know there are plenty of HoliBlog readers who will be generous (and gentle) with comments and advice.

Fire away.