November 30, 2023

Here is a fun little memory that harkens back to our museum’s beginnings as told by Paula Werne, Director of Communications at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari and today’s guest blogger:

It’s always exciting when a reporter from the national news media calls, which they tend to do every year in the fall when your town’s name is Santa Claus.

Back in 1996, though, excitement turned to fear when the reporter revealed he was on assignment with…the National Enquirer.

The reporter, Chris Rodell, was certainly affable enough. Still, we only half-jokingly warned the community to make sure their trash cans were emptied.

Chris’s visit was fun. He toured the town, met with officials, examined Rudolph the Red-Nosed Fire Truck, and took a look around Holiday World.

His final stop was Bill Koch’s office. Mr. Koch, warm and generous as always, talking about the town’s history and his love of planning for the future. Mrs. Koch was there too, as were Will and Natalie.

Mr. Koch touched on a subject I hadn’t heard discussed publicly before: a Santa Claus Museum.

He and Mrs. Koch finished each other’s sentences as they talked about their dream to preserve the past for future generations. It sounded great.

When they paused to take a breath after waxing poetically for about 10 minutes, Will looked straight at me and pointedly stated: “What you just heard is not for public knowledge.”

I stared back, suddenly realizing he wasn’t joking. Half a second later, I dramatically raised my arm and pointed directly at Chris, saying only two words:

“National. Enquirer.”

Will burst into peals of laughter, joined quickly by the rest of us, including Chris. The secret was out.

Chris’s article was wonderful.

And that dream for a Santa Claus Museum was realized a decade later, scandal-free.

The National Enquirer came to town and published this article on Santa Claus, Indiana for their December 26, 1996 edition.

– Thanks Paula! That story makes me chuckle. Do you have an interesting story about a town happening or event? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Send us an email and let us know.

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