Friday the 13th brings good luck

It’s Friday the 13th and we are not open to the public.

That’s because we are hosting our 13th annual Play Day for 2,200 children with disabilities.

It’s a wonderful event and you’ll never see happier children.

Here’s Mrs. Koch visiting with a young friend:

Mrs. Koch during Play Day

Our thanks to all the wonderful children, their parents, teachers, and caregivers. They start off our “now open daily” season with smiles, cheers, and giggles. It makes all the months of off-season work worthwhile.

And to our friends at the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center who help coordinate this event each May by inviting school children with disabilities from around the tri-state. We know you’ve spent the $135,000 donation wisely, and that hundreds and hundreds of your clients have benefited over the years.

Here’s a little sweetheart who couldn’t get enough of the Magic Waters in Holidog’s FunTown:

Play Day 2005

We are truly blessed. The joy these special children showered on us on Friday the 13th will keep us smiling for weeks.

Not an unlucky day at all.
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Who was our mayor in 1959?

Mayor of Santa Claus Land

Thanks to Hilton for emailing me about an interesting story from our Santa Claus Land days.

Hilton won a nation-wide contest. His prize? He was named Town Marshal of the town of Santa Claus for the entire year of 1959.

Mayor of Santa Claus Land

Well, lookee here … Jerry, our archivist par excellence, found a photo and some articles about Hilton:

According to newspaper articles from December 1958, the Santa Claus Chamber of Commerce held a nationwide contest. The search was on for children who had been born on Christmas Day.

The two winners were Hilton, from Mount Vernon, Indiana, and a lad named Michael from Hastings, Minnesota.

That’s Santa Claus’s Postmaster for 1958, Elbert Reinke, pinning the official Town Marshal badge on Hilton’s shirt. (Postmaster Renke looks a bit like Andy Griffith, don’t you think?)

Brace yourself for the headline that showed up in Michael’s local paper:

Minnesota Red-Haired Namesake of Arch-Angel Will Reign As Honorary Mayor At Santa Claus

(Whew! They don’t write like that anymore!)

Michael, on the other hand, was named Mayor of Santa Claus.

Hilton got the cool job, though. Since he was born on December 25, 1946, he named was Town Marshal for 1959.

I think Michael was a tad jealous

1959 Mayor of Santa Claus and Town Marshal

There’s a rather poetic quote from Hilton in the newspaper article.

During his weekend in Santa Claus, he invited all those he met to “visit Posey County, home of the famous watermelon patches, and where the Ohio River blows a breeze of freshness.”
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Stack o’ wood

It’s been a busy day, but at long last, your trusty servant has tracked down the answer to yesterday’s intriguing “stack o’ wood” photo.

closer look at the woodpile

That stack o’ wood —

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— it’s for a fence around Bahari, our new wave pool that opens Saturday.

Oh! You thought it was for —

No, really?

Goodness!

Well, I’ll be!

That really is something to think about, isn’t it?
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Another interesting delivery

Okay, to date I’ve been called sneaky, a tease, and sly.

And that’s all in the past month.

One fellow even accused me of enjoying the “torcher” of HoliBlog readers. (I believe he meant torture, as I have yet to light anyone on fire.)

So as not to disappoint all those fans, here’s another intriguing photo:

wood pile

So, where was I when I took this picture?

Let’s see. Northeast of the park, on Highway 162, not too far from Yellig Park (the sports park on the north end of town).

To the left, you can see the new water tower.

To the right, there’s a tiny blotch of yellow (it’s a piece of construction machinery). And even farther to the right…

What’s that?

Can you see it?

Try squinting…

Thanks to Steven in marketing, we’ll point it out a bit more clearly for you:

closer look at wood pile

Still can’t tell what it is?

It is pretty far back off the road, so it’s hard to tell exactly what it could be.

Let’s use the zoom on this fancy camera.

(There’s nothing like standing by the side of a state highway, fumbling for your reading glasses so you can be sure to push the correct button on the camera.)

Ah! Here we go:

closer look at the woodpile

Gosh. That’s a little fuzzy. Sorry.

Guess I need new reading glasses.

It may take me a day or two to research this new discovery. But I promise, faithful readers, to report back with an answer.

By the way, I just ran the spellcheck program on this entry. You know how they suggest “more appropriate” words when they don’t recognize a word or spelling?

They don’t recognize the word “HoliBlog,” which is certainly understandable.

Instead, they recommend that we use this word:

Helpless.

Thanks a lot!
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Out with the old … in with the new

Original Skeeball machines

About a year and a half ago, Will announced in staff meeting:

I want to see more Guests walking around the park with plush that they’ve won.

Huh?

I guess this should not have surprised me. Will is, after all, the fellow who came up with the Free Unlimited Soft Drinks program for the year 2000. And the next year, he challenged us to come up with another such program. Lori suggested Free Sunscreen, and we added that.

April, our games director, recently sent me the following list of how many prizes were awarded at the various games in 2004:

Shrek … 1,288

Donkey … 1,315

Hoosier Hysteria Regulation College Basketballs … 10,525

Duck Pond prizes … 42,916

Wacky Cats … 44,140

Skeeball … 44,539

Fried Frogs … 62,824

Approximately 4,200,000 tickets won from Skeeball and the redemption games in Merlin’s Arcade.

It suddenly occurs to me that the above numbers may offend those folks who came away from the skill games empty-handed. And that calling them “skill” games made you feel even worse.

Sorry.

So what’s new this year? For one thing …

New Skeeball machines!

Say bye-bye to the vintage machines:

Original Skeeball machines

They were sold over the last few months on eBay and following news reports. (I promise the HoliBlog will feature future sales.)

Meanwhile, the new Skeeball machines are ready to go for opening day:

new Skeeball machines

Skeeball always includes an assortment of neat prizes. It’s fun to watch children as they oh-so-seriously ponder their options as they get ready to trade in their tickets for something special.

Here’s one of the featured prizes for 2005:

Skeeball prize

Here’s wishing a lot of skill and a tiny smidgen of luck to all our Hosts & Hostesses this opening weekend.
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That giant lightbulb in the sky

Water tower

The day has finally arrived!

We all gathered around (along with a number of locals, who brought lawn chairs) and watched as …

Teepee + Stack + Bowl = Water Tower!

water tower assembly

I’d always thought of the pieces as the cone, the cylinder, and the sphere. (Gosh, maybe I never will use what I learned back in geometry class.)

water tower assembly

John, our marketing director, is particularly excited by this new water tower. He bustled about, taking photos from all angles. He knows all the water-tower-workmen by name and probably has his own plaster-of-Paris model at home on the mantel.

Must be a guy thing

I looked around and saw mostly male-types with their eyes glued to the teepee/stack/bowl assemblage. We’ve all been so busy, I guess it felt good to stand still for a few minutes and just concentrate on the immense Tinkertoy being fitted together.

Thanks to John, we know the weight of each piece:

  • The red “teepee” is 50,000 pounds, which is
  • Quite a bit heavier is the 90,000-pound blue “stack”
  • No wonder the big yellow “bowl” took a while to glide into place; it weighs 170,000 pounds.

A bit more painting to do.

And more welding.

When you drive into the town of Santa Claus, from any direction, it’ll be fun for the kiddos to scan the horizon, watching for the giant yellow lightbulb in the sky.
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A bit of housekeeping

We’ve received a number of emails with general questions, so let’s answer them here and now:

Q: Will the HoliBlog continue after opening day?
A: Certainly! If I can make it through this week and still write an entry or two each day (with the help of my friends), there shouldn’t be any problem continuing. On a side note, we just received our monthly report with statistics regarding visitation to our website. Yikes! HoliBlog is the second-most visited page on our site. (More than 10,000 visitors in just three weeks.)

Q: Will the HoliBlog include stories about lesser-known features such as the Betsy Ross Doll House?
A: Sure! It way take a few months, but we’ll try to get to all of your requests.

Q: When will you announce “what’s new” for 2006?
A: The big announcement will take place on Thursday, June 16.

Stay tuned! We’ve got more interesting photos coming soon.
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Fountainbleu

new fountain

Have you been concerned about the progress of the new fountain in the Christmas Plaza?

It’s progressing nicely, thank you:

new fountain

I feel like such a dog, prancing out of my office to take a photo of people who are really earning their pay.

The park is buzzing with activity!

Let’s hope they know we appreciate all they do.

I also hope those guys suspended over the middle of the fountain didn’t just have a big lunch!
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Christmas comes early for Mrs. Koch

decorated tree

When you look up “determined” in the dictionary, chances are Mrs. Koch’s photo will be there.

Every season, there are two or three things that just bug her. Drive her crazy.

Up a tree, even

But she doesn’t gripe and complain. She figures out a way to change it.

It’s usually something people whisper in her ear all season long. Our Guests see Mrs. Koch on TV all summer. She’s an approachable person. And approach her they do!

Top of the list last year was the big fir tree in the Christmas Plaza.

“We need a beautifully decorated Christmas tree for the children to see when they first come in the park,” she announced one week in staff meeting.

No one disagreed. She was right (she usually is).

Next week at staff meeting, “Don’t you think we should fix up that tree for next season?”

And the following week …

What about my tree?

Just imagine our collective joy and exultation when Will passed out the 2005 Budget last fall and one of the line items was:

Trim and Decorate Tree in Christmas Plaza.

Hooray!

Joe carefully researched how the huge tree should be thinned and trimmed, so as not to cause any damage.

The great wooly tree underwent a makeover worthy of reality TV.

And then a week ago came the big announcement: The decorations have arrived!

It rained nearly every day that week. But finally, Monday, the work began.

decorating the Christmas tree

First, the lights were strung.

All 2,700 of them.

And then the huge ornaments were brought out. Giant lollipops, gingerbread men, candy canes, colorful balls, ribbons, snowflakes, and much more.

Kinda pretty, huh?

decorated tree

By the way, Mrs. Koch’s desire to have additional benches placed around the park has also become reality.

And she’s already been granted a very special wish for 2006.

You’ll be able to share next year’s gift with her.

In fact, she’ll insist.
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Brace yourself!

mystery materials

That’s right: Brace yourself!

Are you planning to visit Holiday World this weekend? Or maybe stop by sooner to get your season-pass photo taken?

Either way, when you stop by, you’ll see this.

This … er … stuff that’s in our Employee Parking Lot:

mystery materials

For now, anyway.

Soon we will move it to points unspoken.

For now, though, we’ve warned you: Brace yourself!
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