Last word on Santa...
Last week, if you remember, we had a few holiday photos that included a 1962 shot of Lansdale’s Mardi Gras Parade, and photos from Santa’s headquarters in Lansdale, which the contributor also thought had come from 1962.
This week we received an update from Bob Nuss of Hatfield, who had been involved with the house and wanted to clear up a few items.
He included a few photos, one of which shows a workman busy on the new “North Penn North Pole,” an expansion of the Santa Claus house of previous years, while in the distance, a wrecker is razing the last remaining old building on the lot at the corner of Green and Courtland streets. The photo is from Nov. 19, 1965.
In the Santa photo, Sandra Slotter, 4, of Lansdale, is seen outside the headquarters. A date on the back of the photo indicates it appeared in The Reporter on Dec. 15, 1965.
Another photo shows the empty lot with the Santa house and Christmas tree, which is described in the following.
We’ll let Nuss tell the story:
“Lansdale’s first Santa house was erected in 1963. The house was to be placed on the Krieble property at 23 West Main Street, which is now a public parking lot.
“The location was abruptly changed on that morning because of difficulty removing the iron fence adjacent to the sidewalk for access. The powers that be were frantic about what to do next so they decided to go to Plan B.
“Someone came up with the idea to place it in the eastern-most access drive from Main Street to the Madison parking lot, between the Sam Fruit shoe store and Beinhacker building.
“This was not a problem due to another entrance drive close by, next to the Sun Ray Drugstore.
“The new headquarters was built in such a way that it could be taken apart or lifted onto a trailer and stored. I was told it fell prey to vandals during the off-season sitting in a storage facility off Moyer Road.
“Opening night was business as usual for the Mardi Gras Parade. It started in the early evening with the lighting of the Christmas lights along Main Street as the parade traveled west from the Memorial Park area to the former Acme parking lot.
“But this year was different. After arriving at the Acme, Santa (alias Dave Fesmire of Mt. Vernon Street, Lansdale) took a turn and headed back to Green and Main streets for the grand opening ceremony of his new headquarters.
“In November 1965 there was a second and much larger Santa headquarters built on the lot of the demolished Longacre building at the corner of Main Street and Railroad Avenue. This was also the first time the Mardi Gras Parade would be held during the day on Saturday.
“Merchants from Lansdale and surrounding areas donated all the materials for both buildings. Some of these were Krupp Meyers and Hoffman, Line Lexington Lumber, Snyder’s of Hatfield, Lansdale Lumber and Millwork, Shearer’s Lumber of North Wales and Sherwin Williams Paint.
“A local builder donated the labor and locals completed the finishing touches. Mattero’s scrap yard of West Seventh Street sent an old rubber tire crane and lifted a 30-plus-foot fir tree from a property along Railroad Avenue near Courtland Street, carried and placed it next to the house as a Christmas tree.
“Lansdale Electric braced it with rope and strung lights. It was remarkable how the Jaycees along with the borough coordinated the many merchants and businesses who responded on both occasions.
“During the Santa house era, the Hatfield Jaycees established an annual ‘Santa Calling’ project. It was a direct telephone line linked with Lansdale and Souderton. Each area had a local number, which was tied together so children could call Santa. These calls were made during evening hours and answered by Santa at the Lansdale headquarters.
“When construction was about to start for new office building, Santa’s headquarters had to be removed and placed in storage off Moyer Road. This second Santa house stood abandoned until around early 1971, when a group of local men gave it new life.
“They disassembled and relocated it near the town of Rock Port, Carbon County, close to the Lehigh River. It was rebuilt and eventually enlarged as a hunting and fishing cabin in the middle of the Lehigh River Gorge State Park.
“I was told that it still stands but is unrecognizable, and is now owned by the state. It became the headquarters not of Santa, but of the park rangers who patrol the Lehigh River State Park.
“Thanks to the Lansdale Historical Society for their assistance in my research.”