History of Santa's Village
"A New England Family Tradition"
The early 1950's brought the nation into a
whole new economy. The great depression was over, and many young
couples were having babies, building homes, and buying that first
automobile. At that time, amusement parks were not considered
"respectable" ventures. Most parks were carnival-like in nature; and no
self-respecting businessman or woman would dare risk an already
successful business for an amusement park.
Normand and Cecile Dubois were not typical
business people. They had moved into nearby Lancaster and established a
successful dry cleaning business in 1940. By the early '50's they
envisioned something unique to the area--a family amusement park. They
also recognized the beauty of Jefferson--especially a sixteen acre piece
of land occupied by a grove of fir trees and owned by Ken Reed. As they
drove past the land with their daughter, Elaine, a young fawn jumped out
of the woods into the road in front of their car. When Elaine asked
what that was, her dad told her it was one of Santa's Reindeer.
These people did not believe in
coincidence. It had to be fate that a Christmas theme park should rest
on that parcel of land. It wasn't long after they signed the papers on
Ken Reed's land that they began to construct the first buildings. They
opened the gates for the first guests on Father's Day, 1953. That first
year (with 15 Helpers and 5 buildings) brought families to have fun, see
Santa and his reindeer in this serene little park. Guests enjoyed this
hospitality because the second year Santa's Village doubled in size.
Additions such as Santa's Schoolhouse, the Blacksmith Shop, Santa's
Workshop and St. Nick's Chapel added to the festivities considerably.
Santa even decided to include a ride--one Shetland pony. The third year
brought the village its first show. Some of our guests well-remember
Louie Samson coaxing Francis the mule to drink oats from a whiskey
bottle. With every season came new additions to the park. The Dubois'
determination along with community support has made Santa's Village an
enjoyable attraction in Jefferson.
In 1969, a new generation of Dubois
continued the tradition. Son Paul along with son-in-law Mike Gainer
teamed as new managers. By then, Santa had installed three metal rides
and hosted live entertainment in the form of a chicken and rabbit
dancing on stage. The altar from All Saint's Catholic Church in
Lancaster was graciously given to be preserved in St. Nick's Chapel.
Guests were now enjoying hours of safe, family fun which meant offering
a variety of new services. Playgrounds, food shops and the
electro-animated "Jingle Jamboree" were soon to follow. Santa had
officially entered the technological age! Shortly, thereafter, more
land was purchased for necessary expansion and additional parking.
The 1980's brought more developments as
rides like the Yule Log Flume and Rudy's Rapid Transit Coaster were
installed. Santa also acquired trained macaws that would ride bikes on
a tightrope and roller-skate across the stage. Change was not always
easy, however. In 1986, Normand Dubois passed away. Only 4 years
later, son Paul lost his life in an auto accident. These losses have
deeply affected the family, but efforts to keep their dreams alive
continue. Although she claims to have retired, Cecile can still be
found working daily throughout the summer season.
Santa has had thousands of "Helpers" who
have been an addition to the family over the years. It is those people
who have contributed to the reputation of the park today. The goal is
to bring families together to enJOY a great day. Santa's Helpers are
the hosts who entertain thousands of guests everyday. It takes an
outgoing personality along with a sense of northern New Hampshire
hospitality to create this JOY. Santa would not have been successful in
Jefferson for 50 years if it weren't for his Helpers.
As recently as 1993 the Skyway Sleigh
monorail (engineered and built by O.D. Hopkins) was installed; and in
1994 Santa's Volunteer Fire Department. Santa's North Pole Workshop,
Arcade and Polar Theater were built in 1997. It was that year that
Santa began a new tradition of opening during Christmas time. This new
season became an immediate hit--even for our local guests. Mr. and Mrs.
Claus greet thousands during a time of cozy, festive lights, beautiful
shows and exciting rides--all during the Christmas season!
The new millennium has welcomed the third
generation into park management. Grand children Christian Gainer (and
wife, Pam), and Melanie Staley (with husband Nick) have been passed the
torch. This team is also committed to providing the JOY to all who
enter the park. Growth in the park has continued with the "Reindeer
Rendezvous" in 2005. Here, guests can learn about, feed and pet Santa's
Reindeer. The fun also includes the Reindeer Games in 2006. Children
can participate in the skills it takes Santa's Reindeer to fly!
Change is guaranteed; however, the basic
philosophy has remained. This is not a "metal park" of just rides and
carnival games. Rather, it is a village where participatory shows,
activities and "good family fun" are encouraged. We believe it reflects
the culture of New Hampshire's White Mountains. This is not a region of
hurried people; it is a beautiful place where families enJOY the good
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