By Lindsay Eckert
Tribune lifestyle editor
“Excuse me, where are your birthday cakes?” I asked the man unloading groceries from a red and green cart. To my surprise, he turned around with a Santa Claus tie and a cheerful reply that matched his holiday attire. Behind him, an end cap was stocked with Christmas cookies, garland decorated the aisles and holly berries dotted the aisle signs with seasonal flair. As I walked outside, in shorts and a t-shirt, I spotted six Santas climbing the chimneys of local establishments, such as the sports bar called Jingle Bell Rock or the restaurant called St. Nick’s Lodge. Ironically, this wasn’t an abnormally warm day. It was June 15 in Santa Claus, Ind. also the home to Holiday World.
For two nights and three days we celebrated summer with accents of Christmas. The “Christmas Cabin” at Lake Rudolph — most definitely named after the reindeer who was blessed with the decision to forgo a nose job — greeted us with rugs such as “Seasons Greetings” and framed photos of Santa that hung over drying beach towels and bathing suits. It’s an ironic image. But, Holiday World and Lake Rudolph live out the concept of what true holiday spirit is capable of: bringing people together.
The cabin’s deck may have been a place of serenity, where the trees’ shadows illustrated a dancing silhouette of nature, but it was also a front-row seat to families who were starting a tradition. As license plates from all over the country — Holiday World draws some crowds — parked in the freshly-graveled drives these brand new cabins were about to build a home for families’ memories.
Whether it’s the golf cart parade through Lake Rudolph, walks to Blitzen Kitchen (a snack shop that provides sugar comas for free) or the smell of campfire cooking, the campground embraces the holiday spirit that we all embrace together with our families. During that season, we hug each other a little longer, we smile a little wider and we appreciate what we have even more. More than anything, we remember those times and we’ll remember our times at Lake Rudolph, even if we were in bathing suits and flip flops amongst a Santa-themed scene.
[friday] editor/ Holiday spirit is year-round