SantaLand brings a new meaning to “decking the halls” in Creighton. SantaLand opened its gates this week and turned on the lights for the 20th year in a row.
With lights and displays on both sides of the drive through the park, as well as inside Santa's workshop, the Christmas capital of Northeast Nebraska is something to behold.
Abigail Frank, Creighton Area Economic Development Director, said SantaLand is something everyone - young and old - should see for themselves.
“To me, it reminds me of childhood memories,” said Frank, who serves on the Chamber of Commerce committee that organizes the event.
Throughout the month of December, Bruce Park is transformed into SantaLand. But it doesn't happen overnight.
“It takes about 2,000 volunteer hours, including various weekday nights and weekends, to accomplish the light displays being turned on the week of Thanksgiving,” Frank said.
She said dome of the biggest displays in the park are the shadow boxes.
"You can see the Grinch climbing on top of the chimney and you can also see things like the nativity scene. That's thanks to church organizations and business owners within the community. Each one has their own special display,” Frank said.
Other displays along the candy cane road include an airplane, helicopter, penguins skating on a lighted ice rink, teddy bears on a see-saw, snowmen on a swing set, a merry-go-round, a scene honoring veterans and a Ferris wheel.
SantaLand is also home to Santa's Workshop, where Santa's motorized elves can be seen hard at work with checking the list and building toys. Santa and Mrs. Claus make an appearance each night in December leading up to Christmas.
“One thing you can do at Santa’s workshop is write Santa a letter. You can bring a written letter or you can actually write a letter while you are here. And you can tell Santa what is on your wishlist,” Frank said.
Visitors can also write and hand-deliver letters to Santa as well as enjoy refreshments provided by local businesses, organizations and other groups.
In 1995, Ernie and Sharon Christiansen donated several of the original Christmas displays, lights and elves that can be seen in Santa’s workshop. Since the original donation, SantaLand has been organized and maintained by the Creighton Area Chamber of Commerce. Organizations and individuals have played a significant in this production over the years.
"We are really proud of the community effort that continues to go into SantaLand year after year," Frank stated.
General operating costs and improvements to SantaLand are funded through donations from organizations, individuals and visitors.
SantaLand is open until December 31 6-10 p.m. Santa’s Workshop is open Dec. 1-23 from 6-9 p.m.