Believe it or not, Santa Clause actually went to school in Albion, NY, just an hour outside of Buffalo!
Okay, maybe not the actual Santa Claus, but a few of his famous look alikes did.
In 1937, Charles W. Howard, a farmer in Albion, New York, established a Santa school in direct response to his displeasure with seeing other Santas in frayed suits and cheap beards, and a shockingly inadequate knowledge of reindeer. This led to his creation of the first of its kind “Santa School” with the intent to teach people how to be better Santas. Howard himself was no stranger to the Santa vocation and actually was the featured Santa Claus in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, perhaps the most visible Santa in the United States, from 1948 until 1965.
As the years progressed, the school grew to also become a Christmas-themed park, with several barns, a train and some reindeer. Families would travel far and wide to visit the park as it became a staple for many families throughout the years. This attraction was responsible for bringing in 80,000 visitors per year from around Western New York and the northeastern United States.
The school moved the school to Bay City, Michigan in 1968, where it continues to operate today under the direction of Tom and Holly Valent. The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School will celebrate it’s 85th Anniversary in 2022. Now located in Midland, Michigan, The School welcomes “an eager student body of about 300 joyful and jolly new and returning students each year.”
To read more about the current state of the school and more about its background visit the article at WNY Heritage with Digital Download for $2 including the old photo album: “The Santa Claus School in Albion.”