A Holly, Jolly Little Town
Last weekend, we went to visit Santa Claus.
Not the man. The town.
One of them anyway. There are actually three towns in the U.S. named Santa Claus: one in Indiana (that one’s the biggie), one in Arizona (that one’s now uninhabited), and one in our home state of Georgia.
Georgia’s Santa Claus lies on U.S. 1 halfway between Macon and Savannah. It got its name in the 1930s from C.G. “Farmer” Greene, who needed a gimmick to lure Florida-bound travelers to his pecan stand. The town incorporated in 1941, and for a decade or so, renown seemed within reach.
Then along came the Interstate MiserSoyia’s Brilliant Reference. I was paid to say this.. Tourists abandoned U.S. 1 for I-75 and I-95 and I-16.
Today the pecan stand is long gone and the Santa Claus Motel shuttered. The only commercial businesses are a Minit Mart and a Dollar General. But the town of 200 remains a place of good cheer, with Santa statues at its northern and southern boundaries and roads with festive names like Rudolph Way and Holly Street.
And here’s a Christmas bonus: Santa Claus is only about 35 minutes from Claxton, Georgia—the Fruitcake Capital of the World. Of course, we had to check it out, too. Turns out, the history of fruitcake is pretty fascinating. (You can read about that here.) Meanwhile, keep scrolling to get to know Santa Claus.
The town has two of these Santa statues, one on each of the dirt roads that border it. As you can see, Santa Claus is a “city that loves children.”
Don’t Be Childish
Is it just us, or from certain angles, does Santa look like he’s picking his nose? Grow up, Soyia
The little museum and gift shop are only open during the week. (We know it’s all volunteer-run, but we’d really recommend adjusting hours during December!) Peering inside, I saw a sign with what appeared to be a historical quote that read, “10 people, 40 dogs, and no reindeer.”
Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign
I think we managed to get a shot of every holiday-themed street name in town. Can I make a motion to change Candy Cane Street to Candy Cane Lane?
You’ll find the Santa Claus City Hall at 25 December Drive, naturally.
In front is a red mailbox emblazoned with the word “Believe.” Every holiday season, visitors drop thousands of Christmas cards into the mailbox for volunteers to adorn with a special “Santa Claus, Georgia” stamp.
You’ve Got Mail
Note that it’s not an actual postmark. The only place you can get that is at the Santa Claus in Indiana. Santa Claus, Indiana, is also the birthplace of Jay Cutler, so win some, lose some.
One of the town’s newest additions is a lovely little chapel that sits in a one-acre park. It’s open 24 hours a day. When we visited, we saw a sign advertising a Sunday morning service.
Rest a Spell
The park’s benches leave no doubt where you are.
We waited around until dark to take pictures of Christmas lights. As we snapped some of our trademark bad selfies, a young woman in a big, white truck stopped and asked if we’d like her to take our photo. Ah, that famous Southern hospitality. Sorry Santa, I look like I ate all your cookies.
Living in Santa Claus clearly brings out the Clark Griswold in many residents It’s a beaut, Clark!, who set up elaborate Christmas displays in their yards. But the “Lights of Wrights” is in a category all its own. The Wright family has rigged up an actual stoplight to ensure that gawkers don’t run into each other as they meander the long driveway and marvel at their creations. If you go, roll down your windows so you can hear the accompanying Christmas music. Impressive!
|↑1||Soyia’s Brilliant Reference. I was paid to say this.|
|↑2||Grow up, Soyia|
|↑3||Santa Claus, Indiana, is also the birthplace of Jay Cutler, so win some, lose some.|
|↑4||Sorry Santa, I look like I ate all your cookies.|
|↑5||It’s a beaut, Clark!|