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Thursday, August 03, 2017

August 3, 1946

Let's throw it back in time to another Throwback Thursday, shall we?  And this time, I think I've picked a fantastic topic to talk about!  Well, at least I hope that I have.

Of course, we need to do what we've done the last few years of this feature.  Let's have a look at some of the other historical happenings of August 3.

1527 - The first known letter sent from North America is mailed by John Rut, from St. John's, Newfoundland

1601 - Austria captures Transylvania in the Battle of Goroszlo

1778 - The theatre La Scala is inaugurated in Milan, Italy

1859 - The American Dental Association is founded in Niagara Falls, New York

1900 - Firestone Tire and Rubber Company is founded

1914 - Germany officially declares war against France in the early stages of World War I

1921 - One day after they were acquitted by a Chicago court, the eight Chicago White Sox players involved in the Black Sox scandal of 1919 are banned from playing the sport professionally

1926 - "Tarzan" actor Gordon Scott (d. 2007) is born in Portland, Oregon

1936 - Jesse Owens wins the 100 meter dash at the Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany

1938 - Irish radio/television personality Terry Wogan (d. 2016) is born in Limerick, Ireland

1949 - The National Basketball League merges with the Basketball Association of America to form the National Basketball Association - or NBA

1960 - The African nation of Niger gains independence from France

1966 - Comedian Lenny Bruce dies of a drug overdose at the age of 40

1972 - The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is ratified by the United States Senate

1977 - Tandy announces the invention of the TRS-80 - one of the world's first mass produced personal computers

1983 - Actress Carolyn Jones dies at the age of 53

1985 - "Shout" by Tears for Fears begins a three week stay at #1 on the Billboard Charts

1996 - The Macarena takes the world by storm, topping the charts at #1 - the song would stay on top for FOURTEEN weeks!

2001 - Actor and "Mr. Belvedere" star Christopher Hewett passes away at the age of 80

2004 - After being closed for nearly three years as a result of the 9/11 attacks, the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty reopens to the public

2014 - A 6.1 earthquake strikes Yunnan, China, killing 617 and injuring at least 2,400

And happy birthday to all of the famous faces celebrating a birthday today!  Birthday salutations to Tony Bennett, John Erman, Vic Vogel, Steven Berkoff, Tom Georgeson, Martin Sheen, Beverly Lee, Martha Stewart, John York, Philip Casnoff, John Landis, Jo Marie Payton, Jay North, John C. McGinley, Molly Hagan, Lee Rocker, James Hetfield, Ed Roland, Lisa Ann Walter, Isaiah Washington, Brent Butt, Stephen Carpenter, Deidra "Dj Spinderella" Roper, Tom Brady, Evangeline Lilly, Hannah Simone, Ryan Lochte, and Brent Kutzle.

And happy birthday to anybody celebrating a birthday today!  Hope it's a good one!

Of course, birthdays are just one day in which family and friends gather together to celebrate.  Holidays are another.  

And on today's Throwback Thursday date - August 3, 1946 - we'll have a tale about how you can celebrate the holidays long after they've passed!

As I look at the calendar, the month says August.  And well, when it comes down to it, August is a rather boring month on the holiday front.

Boring in that there are none.

I mean, sure there are Christmas in July sales, and there are some stores that have Halloween candy on the shelves already (I'm not joking about that either), but for the most part, it's a long stretch until Labor Day.  And honestly, I don't really consider that to be much of a holiday either.  The lack of Happy Labor Day cards in my life seem to confirm this to be truth.

And yet there are people who seem to be excited for the holidays to come.  I can see why they have such passion for them.  They are a time of year in which we are supposed to spend as much time as possible with our loved ones.  I don't know if I'd actually post how many days there are until Christmas on my own personal timeline on social media (it's 144 days, just in case you were wondering).  But I know people who do.  Constantly.  Sometimes three times a day.  Lenettia. 

(Oh, right...not supposed to name names here.  Sorry, Lenettia.  My bad.)

So, I thought to myself.  Amidst the early holiday store displays and holiday there really a place where you can celebrate almost any holiday all year round?

The answer is yes!  And that place opened up in a place called Santa Claus, Indiana exactly seventy-one years ago today.  Wow, what an appropriate name!

I mean, when it first opened up, it was called Santa Claus Land!  Of course, this theme park has changed quite a bit over the last seventy-one years, but back in 1946, it was a magical place.  You know how when people in the Southern Hemisphere celebrate Christmas, it's the middle of summer there?  Well, Santa Claus Land was kind of like that.  A theme park open during the summer months that allowed people to celebrate Christmas in the middle of the summer!

It was conceived by park founder Louis J. Koch, who came up with the idea when he passed through the town of Santa Claus, Indiana.  He believed that a good many children probably felt a little bit cheated when they went through the town only to find that Santa Claus didn't actually live there.  He felt that if he constructed a Christmas themed park in the town, it would make children and their families appreciate it more.

Initially, the idea was drafted in 1941, however due to World War II causing shortages in both manpower and resources, construction was set back until the war was over.  By 1945, the construction had begun on the park and took nearly one whole year to complete before its grand opening on August 3, 1946.

And what an opening it was!  Obviously the park would have Santa Claus available to greet the children (and just on an aside, my deepest condolences to those poor men who donned that costume in the middle of that sticky Indiana summer).  But there was also a toy shop, a restaurant, and several amusement park rides including one that was called the "Freedom Train".  Later attractions would include a deer farm, and several more rides and concession stands.  Louis Koch would stay on as the head of Santa Claus Land for the first few years before passing on control to his son, Bill.  And true to the Christmas spirit, admission was free for all who visited.

Well, at least it was for the first nine years of the park's operation, anyway.  Children still got in for free, but adults had to pay fifty cents beginning in 1955.  However, as time passed, the park grew larger and larger.  Choirs were hired to sing Christmas carols for a couple of seasons.  More rides were added for both children and their parents to enjoy.  And by 1984, with another change in leadership (Bill's son, Will took over as head of the park), the decision was made to celebrate other holidays other than Christmas.  

Beginning in 1984, separate areas of the park devoted to Halloween and the 4th of July were added.  Another section, Thanksgiving, was added in 2006.  And because of the new holidays being celebrated, the name of the park was changed from Santa Claus Land to Holiday World.

And in 1993, the park received another bonus addition in the form of a water park complete with several waterslides, a couple of wave pools, and a lazy river attraction, boosting tourism even more.  The water park was called the "Splashin' Safari", and the name was added to Holiday World's name around the time of completion.

As of 2017, the park has celebrated seventy-one years of fun, excitement, and of course, holidays.  And it continues to be one of the more successful theme parks in the United States.  It has earned a total of fifty-one Golden Ticket Awards - awards given to parks that have had excellence in amusement, safety, and sales.  And in 2004, the park was awarded the Applause Award - the smallest amusement park to receive the honour.

Oh, and did I mention that the park attracts a total of one million people over the course of the six months of the year that it is open for business?  That's mighty impressive.

So if you're wanting to celebrate Christmas in summer, scare people in July, or have a good old fashioned Thanksgiving dinner for Labor Day weekend, Holiday World and Splashin' Safari just might be on your wish list. 

After all, seventy-one years in business is something to celebrate.

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