2408 Pinehurst Ct., Midland, MI 48640
Even though our show is about Michigan, in Midland, I got to go to the North Pole and meet Santa. Actually, to be more accurate, I met about two hundred of them. The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School is the world’s oldest institution completely dedicated to the art of being Santa. Once a year, jolly gents from around the world go there to spend three days learning all things Santa.
The school is right in downtown Midland, and you’ll know it by the sea of Santas strolling up the twinkling front walk every October. The inside of the Santa House is almost surreal. It’s like something out of a fairytale. Dozens and dozens of Santas singing carols, eating Christmas cookies and learning to be the best Santas they can be. This has got to be the coolest Santa house this side of the North Pole.
The school was started over seventy-five years ago by Charles Howard. Howard was the original Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa. He saw a need for better Santas, and the rest is history.
If anyone has the spirit of Santa in them, it’s Tom Valent and his wife Holly (aka Mr. and Mrs. Claus). Together they run the school and are keeping the legend of this jolly man alive and well.
Whether you’re a first-timer at the school or a seasoned Santa, getting together once a year like this is a great way for these guys to share and grow. These guys are the real deal. Real beards, real bellies and a real desire to keep the spirit of the holidays happy and pure. Now these guys may look just like Santa, but inside they’re really just big kids with really big hearts.
With a little coaxing, tugging, shoving, tying and gluing, they even made me up to look like Santa. And you know, when I was done and everything was in place, I almost felt like the jolly old gent. Every one of these Saint Nicks was so nice. I was overwhelmed with their kindness and good cheer.
I’m sure Santa at the North Pole would be very proud of all these guys. They’re helping keep the spirit of Santa alive and bringing holiday cheer to kids all over the world, some small and some not so small, like me.