Artifact of the Month: Santa’s Land souvenir decal

Where can you find North Pole resident Santa Claus fraternizing with a lion and a puma? Only on this souvenir decal from Santa’s Land Park and Zoo in Cherokee, NC.

Santa's Land decal

The undated decal, our December Artifact of the Month, gives us Santa-as-cultural-icon, as opposed to Santa-as-symbol-of-Christmas. Aside from Mr. Claus, nothing in the image is remotely Christmas-y. And the park itself is open throughout most of the year but not during the winter holidays.

While the park’s opening date is elusive, the decal’s graphics and this postcard from Flickr user Jacob…K indicate that Santa’s Land has been around for several decades.

The amusement park at Santa’s Land offers innocent fun like the “Rudicoaster” — a roller coaster that approximates the experience of riding in a sleigh pulled by Rudolph. But Santa’s Land’s zoo has been in the news recently, due to complaints from Cherokee tribal elders over the park’s treatment of its captive bears.

This travel decal is one of many from the Lew Powell Memorabilia Collection, which is rich with wonderful North Caroliniana. Stay tuned: In the coming year we’ll launch a digital collection featuring a selection of items from this collection.

One thought on “Artifact of the Month: Santa’s Land souvenir decal”

  1. Long ago, CA 1874-1975, during the summer I was backpacking in the GSMNP. The trail, on the way to Siler’s Bald, went through the parking lot at Clingman’s Dome. I was sitting in the grass adjacent to the parking lot resting my feet when a station wagon drove up and parked close to me. On the driver’s side door I saw the Santa Land logo. Out of the car came a man who, in the correct clothing, could have passed for the jolly old elf himself. He proceeded to open a rear door and literally yank a child (8-9 years olde) out of the car and give him a sound and positive spanking right there in the parking lot. Ho. Ho. Ho. That incident sticks in my head and now I fear Santa Claus.

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