Patricia Koch believes.
Growing up in nearby Mariah Hill in the 1930s and ’40s, Pat was the daughter of “Santa Jim” Yellig. Her childhood Christmases included helping her father reply to children’s letters and listening to him being interviewed by reporters from around the world, merrily ringing his jingle bells and talking about the joys of the holiday season.
After a decade away from home as part of the Daughters of Charity religious order, serving as a nurse in St. Louis, New Orleans and Chicago, Pat returned to Santa Claus and married Bill Koch, whose family owned Santa Claus Land (now Holiday World). She and Bill worked side by side, growing the park and the town, and raising their five children. As adults, the next generation continues to enhance the town’s theme with Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort, the Santa Claus Christmas Store, the annual Santa Claus Christmas Celebration, and Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari.
Toward the end of the century, Pat’s interest in preserving the history of the town, the famous Santa Claus Post Office, her father, and her family’s growing theme park, became a passion. Together with the non-profit Santa’s Elves, Inc., she opened the Santa Claus Museum in the spring of 2006.
Whether helping Santa to answer children’s letters, preserving those letters from nearly a century ago, researching local history, or fundraising, Pat’s devotion to the future of the Santa Claus Museum, Santa Claus Park and the historic Santa Claus Statue continues into a new decade.