Santa's Village
Santa's Village of Scotts Valley was the second of three villages to be opened. Glen Holland a Southern California developer opened the first Santa's Village in 1955 near Lake Arrowhead in San Bernardino County and a third Santa's Village near Chicago in Dundee, Illinois.

Santa's Village Corporation and general contractor Putnam Henck built Santa's Village, Scotts Valley in 9 months at the cost of One Million dollars. Santa's Village opened officially on Memorial Day Weekend May 30, 1957 to large crowds. On hand to greet these visitors of all ages was Santa (Carl Hansen, a native of Denmark), Mrs. Claus (Alma Ragon). Numerous elves, gnomes and pixies operated the rides, sold tickets and souvenirs and served food and refreshments to the public. The elves and gnomes wore green or beige leather vests, green leotards, elf booties with pointed toes and bells, and a green felt hat complete with green ostrich feather attached. According to some recently found photos some ride operators wore full dress Lederhosen right down to the knee high socks. Goats, sheep, ducks, deer, a Mexican burro and Penny Peck of the educated animals were part of a baby zoo where children could feed the animals. Reindeer from Unalakleet, Alaska pulled Santa's sleigh. There was a bobsled ride, a giant whirling Christmas Tree ride and a miniature train ride. Other attractions were a giant Jack-in-the-Box, Alice in Wonderland Maze, Santa's Enormous Boot, brightly painted mushrooms, a Queen of Hearts figure, and a puppet theatre.

Santa had a huge mailbox, a gingerbread house, the mill-wheel toy factory along the creek, a lollipop tree, a magic shop, a reindeer barn and a gift shop. Around the village were treetop tall wooden soldiers and candy canes. Mrs. Claus had a kitchen, where hamburgers, hotdogs and steak sandwiches were served. An egg-shaped cottage and a large shoe-house were open for exploration. There was a hook and ladder fire engine and a tractor to climb on and a tree house with a connecting slide to delight children. Santa even had a gas station to fuel the visitor's cars. As you look at the buildings in Santa's Village one observes true log cabin construction; typical rectangular structures with logs placed horizontally together and with corners notched together. The buildings had steep pointed roofs strengthened by rafters of trussed construction. These log rafters were affixed horizontally with 2 X 12 shiplapped redwood boards assimilating a snowy roof. These log structures had a brightly colored gingerbread trim and surrealistic features. This architectural style similar to villages found in wet rainy parts of Germany was most complimentary to the beautiful redwood groves and creek surrounding beautiful Scotts Valley.

Creatures from Alice in Wonderland, Jack Pumpkin Head, the Easter Bunny, Little Bo Peep, and a Good Witch wandered throughout the grounds, greeting youngsters. Appropriate music flowed from speakers in the trees. Structures were continuously painted and paths were kept very clean. Santa's Village, in its lovely redwood setting, was a fairyland for young and old. For many of us who worked there we felt strongly that it was a dream job for we had so much fun interacting with the many visitors that it didn't seem like work. Over one Million people from all over the world came to visit and enjoy this delightful setting.

On 22 August 1966, Santa Clara County entrepreneur Noorudin Billawalla purchased the Santa's Village property from Glenn Holland. Billawalla continued to lease the property to Santa's Village Corporation. In 1977, after the Santa's Village Corporation had filed for bankruptcy, Billawalla bought the "Village" for $615,000. The City of Scotts Valley rejected Billawalla's plan to create a Knott's Berry Farm-type complex, which would have included a hotel, a shopping center, and rides. Billawalla then changed the parks' name to "The Village" and promoted an Arts and Crafts Fair in 1978, but in 1979, the park's gates were finally closed by they City of Scotts Valley for they wanted the park to be brought up to current building specifications, and the zoning was changed from commercial to residential for the back 100+ acres of the property. The economic competition with the beaches and the Boardwalk, untimely rainy season during the peak season of November and December, and governmental bureaucracy was too much. Santa's Village as a theme park was dead.

Since 1985 the property has passed from Mr. Noorudin Billawalla through the hands of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Dividend Development Corporation, Santa's Village Joint Venture, the City of Scotts Valley, and the Scotts Valley Public Facilities Corporation, and to Borland International, Inc. In 1992 Borland erased Santa's Village from the landscape by tearing down the buildings or having them removed by private parties. Some of the buildings are currently used by Bed and Breakfast facilities in Northern California. Currently Greystone Homes, the current owner, has a development proposed for this pristine property.

At a recent Santa's Village reunion of former employees and owner, we agreed that Santa's Village was a fantasyland for children and adults where elves, gnomes, pixies and reindeer ruled beside Santa & Mrs. Claus. Walking down paths and through this enchanting place, Santa's Village had a kind of magical feeling and today the strong memories still linger with those who had the privilege of working or visiting Santa's Village over the years.

On behalf of all of us who enjoyed this special place... Happy Holidays!

Credits: Photo Collections of Judy Lind, and Parks and Recreation of Scotts Valley. Santa's Village historical background by Glory Ann Laffey & Marion Dale Pokriots.

If you have an interesting photo and memory of our town please call Eric Taylor at 438-2174. We would love to share it with the community.