"You can visit Santa in the SUMMERTIME!"
A few weeks ago, I saw my first lit Christmas tree in an Oakland window. Either they were having a late "Christmas in July" party, or there are people in this city who love Christmas more than I do. However, the existence of that September tree reminded me of a major childhood memory. Of a place I never visited.
My parents have always given me everything I wanted, within reason (well, and then some). They are wonderful, generous people. If I had asked them to take us to the Santa's Village theme park in the San Bernardino Mountains between 1983-1998, I know they would have complied. But inexplicably, I don't think I ever wanted to go there while it was still around!
But with the option of Disneyland less than an hour away from my Ganny's house, I guess I never felt like settling for what seemed to be a low-rent substitute, as much as I loved Christmas and Santa. Also, the San Bernardino mountains seemed really far away at the time. But boy, I wish we had made just one trip. The kitsch factor is through the roof!
According to their great memorial website (which honors "the memories, the parks, and the Santas"), California's Santa's Village actually opened a month before Disneyland in 1959.
In the 90's, California decided they'd had enough of Santa. Santa's Village closed, and one of my favorite landmarks, the giant Santa peeping up along the coastline near Carpinteria which signified that my family was halfway to our LA destinatation, was deemed too tacky and relegated to a sad lot in Oxnard.
Did anyone ever visit Santa's Village? Was it a pleasure to "see Santa in the summertime," or confusing-inducing?
Thanks to a fellow child of the 80's glued to KTLA for many an afternoon, Jason of Southern California News Wire, for his tireless reporting on California's bygone Santas.