A fowl memory of Santa Claus Land

We received a confession, of sorts, from Ginger via email this week.

The Bloomington, Indiana, lady graciously gave us permission to make this a public confession.

We searched our photo archives, but couldn’t find the perfect photo to go with this story. You’ll understand why once you read it.

From Ginger, here is the Great Chicken Confession:

I have a new co-worker in my office, recently moved to our area from Florida, who had been told there was “nothing to do in Indiana!”

I and another co-worker assured her that that most certainly was NOT the case, and that we knew of a terrific place not too far south of here to take her family (she is a mother of four) that was fun and affordable.

I specifically mentioned the free unlimited drinks and the sunscreen, and told her to visit your website. I also took a minute to go to your webpage, thinking it would make a nice day trip for my grandchildren, and I saw your “Do You Remember Santa Claus Land?” page, and was reminded of one of my own Santa Claus Land memories . . . .

I was born in 1962, and this was when I was still fairly young, not sure of my exact age, but I’m guessing probably around five or six, because I vividly remember the building with all the dolls on display.

But the memory that stands out the most was this trained chicken in a cage, wherein you (inserted coins? pushed a button?) and it would come out of a box and peck out a tune with its beak on a little piano.

Piano-playing duck

My uncle did whatever it was to set the process in motion – pushed a button or whatever – and, out came Mr. Chicken!

He gave a few pecks on the piano, looked around, and at that moment he realized – as did we – that there was a big, gaping hole in the side of the cage, and he lost no time in making good his escape.

The last we saw of Mr. Chicken was him running off out the back door, through the grass behind the building . . .

Frankly, I’d never seen a chicken run quite that fast before.

Funny, I don’t recall that the adults actually reported the missing chicken to the park employees. And as a little kid, I was afraid we’d somehow be held responsible and accused of – what? – chicken-napping? And of course, there were no chickens’ pictures on milk cartons in those days . . .

P.S. I just told this [rather animated] story to my co-workers, and I’m not sure whether they think the story is really funny, or if they just think I’m really nuts . . .

P.P.S. This weekend, I shared the story with another friend, and he offered the theory that the hole in the cage had, in fact, been made by Mr. Chicken himself, over a period of months, being gradually enlarged until such time as it was big enough for him to make good his escape. Therefore, we have now nicknamed him the “Shawshank Chicken.”

Santa Claus Land Children’s Choir

1970 Santa Claus Land Children's Choir

1970 Santa Claus Land Children's ChoirHas it really been 40 years?

All these children are grown now, with children (and maybe even grandchildren) of their own.

Time, it seems, flies as fast as Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve

Just in time for Christmas, we’ve dusted off this film (yes, this was long before VHS tapes or DVDs) of the Santa Claus Land Children’s Choir. This choir, made up of local children,  performed here at the park in 1970 and 1971.

Merry Christmas to you and your family from all of us here at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari!

Do you remember Santa Claus Land?

We started out, back in 1946, as a park called Santa Claus Land.

Here’s a rather remarkable precursor to today’s infomercial.

And yes, it includes a darling Santa Jim cameo. And those well-remembered educated animals.

If you enjoy learning about the history of Holiday World, you might like a copy of our pictorial history book for under the tree this year, signed by author Pat Koch. It’s available on our online HoliShop.

As Santa Jim would say, "Merry Christmas to all!"