450 Santas coming to Albion in April for conference

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 February 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo courtesy of the Santa Claus Oath Foundation – Charlie Howard portrays Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He served in the role from 1948 to 1965.

ALBION – The community that was home to the first school for Santa Claus will again see a big crowd of of red suit-wearing jolly old elves.

Albion will be hosting a Santa Claus conference in April, and about 450 Santas are expected from April 16-18, Carol Culhane advised the Orleans County Legislature on Wednesday.

Culhane, the Gaines town supervisor, has helped set up the event with Phil Wenz, a Santa historian who has portrayed Santa in Illinois and the Midwest for about three decades.

Wenz wanted to bring the conference to Charlie Howard’s hometown. Howard established the first Santa Claus School in 1937. He ran it on Phipps Road until his death in 1966.

The school has since been moved to Midland, Mich., but it still bears the name of Charlie Howard, who remains a revered figure in the Santa world.

The Santas will use the Albion Middle School auditorium and gym for most of their events and conference, Culhane said.

Many of them will also be part of Peace Garden dedication at April 19 at Fairhaven Treasures at the corner of routes 98 and 104 in Gaines.

County Legislature Chairman David Callard praised Culhane for helping to organize the event.

“Things of this nature draw people to Orleans County,” Callard said.

Besides starting the Santa Claus School, Howard portrayed Santa during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City from 1948 until 1965.