Santa’s Village, Then & Now

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Santa's Village SkyPark California

Located near Lake Arrowhead in California, SkyPark sits on 230 acres and features year-round hiking, biking, archery, ziplining, and fishing, making it a popular destination for adults and kids alike. In addition to outdoor recreation, the park is home to Santa’s Village, a historic holiday-themed attraction with a long history of spreading good cheer. 

Santa’s Village opened in 1955 after a local Crestline resident, Glen Holland, was inspired by reading an article about a still-operating Santa’s Village in New Hampshire. Holland met with investors and proposed the idea of building a similar Santa’s Village near Lake Arrowhead, which they readily agreed to. 

During the village’s construction, Holland and the general contractor, Putty Henck, worked with local craftsmen and artisans to help make the village as special and whimsical as possible. 

Initially, the park was built on just 15 of the 230 available acres on the property, and it continued to operate in that capacity for about 23 years. During that time, Holland also built two more similar parks in Santa Cruz, California, and Dundee, Illinois, which would make Santa’s Village the first franchised theme park in the country. 

Despite its early success, the park went bankrupt in the 1970s. After it went bankrupt, Henck and his wife Pamela worked to expand the park to include horseback riding, additional rides, and lots of nature trails. Their efforts were fruitful as they were able to reopen the park to renewed success that would last until the ‘90s. 

Unfortunately, in 1998, the park had to close yet again due to limited funds. The Henck family auctioned off many of its rides and fixtures, several of which can still be found around the local community. But even the auctioning off of its attractions didn’t prevent the park from operating again. 

A new owner brought in local contractor, John Radleigh, and began restoring many of the park’s original structures. However, the unlucky property would once again fall victim to its circumstances as the 2003 “Old Fire” destroyed much of the property and its neighbors. After the fire, the park functioned for many years as a staging area for logging operations before being sold to yet another new owner in June of 2014. 

The new owner recognized the historic value of the property and worked to restore it to its original charm and function, rebuilding it as the SkyPark at Santa’s Village that we know and love today. 

These days, the park makes great use of its 230 acres, offering limitless things to do and see no matter the time of year. If you head to Santa’s Village during the holiday season, then you can do everything from visit Santa’s house and the North Pole to go ice skating at the Silver Bells Arena. You can also decorate cookies, make crafts with Santa’s elves, and watch puppet shows and magicians, making it an amazing holiday destination for the whole family. 

For more information on tickets, operating hours, and visiting Santa's Village, be sure to visit skyparksantasvillage.com.

 

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