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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Santa Claus is Bringing Visitors to Town

Philip Koch swears he was born in Santa Claus, Ind., when the small town one hour east of Evansville had only 37 residents. Today, about 2,500 call Santa Claus home, and every summer, thousands of visitors converge at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, a local amusement park with nationally acclaimed rides.

A little more than a year ago, Koch asked, “Why couldn’t Santa Claus attract visitors year round?” As a native, he noticed the town’s name was enough to attract visitors; Koch wanted a bigger draw. “There’s always people who want to see something,” Koch says. “I wanted to give everyone an answer for that.” Inspired by the town’s namesake, he bought a holiday décor shop, the 7,000-square-foot Santa Claus Christmas Store.

With a 58-foot tree composed of lights, the mood for holiday shopping begins before patrons enter. Inside, lighting, ornaments, yard art, nativity scenes, and numerous Santa statues vie for attention, including St. Nick resting on a half moon hanging from the ceiling. But this is a store where details matter. Ne’Qwa Art’s glass globe ornaments are hand-painted from the inside with Christmas-themed scenes. Mr. Christmas, known for creating lovable miniatures, created a tiny mouse in a stocking cap who plays holiday tunes at a piano. Porter brings a music box, handcrafted in Italy, with a copper disc.

The store is one where people like to linger, and in the back near the Santa photo booth, customers also like to eat. From October through December last year, Koch sold almost three tons of fudge and 6,000 cookies. During the busiest months (November and December), up to 17 fudge flavors such as sherbet, orange cream, and candy cane fill the countertop.

Nearby is Philip Koch’s warehouse boasting 5,000 personalized ornaments for his online venture, www.santasornamentshop.com. To learn more about the Santa Claus Christmas Store, visit www.santaclauschristmasstore.com.

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