Bronze statue of Santa is fitting tribute to the late Charles W. Howard

Posted 16 June 2023 at 9:36 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: A new bronze statue of Santa Claus was unveiled on June 10 in honor of the late Charles W. Howard. The Albion Betterment Committee spearheaded the project.


On behalf of the Santa Claus Oath Foundation and the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame, we would like to extend our congratulations to the community of Albion, New York on the dedication of the Charles W. Howard statue. And a very special thank you to all that has made this dream into today’s reality. A job and labor of love well done.

I so wish I personally could have been there on the unveiling on June 10. I was privileged to bring the first celebration of his legacy to Albion, New York in 2010…and the Legendary Santa Claus Conference there in 2015. And, I got to present to Albion, on behalf of the State of New York, a proclamation from the New York State Senate in 2017 to his family and the community.

Charles W. Howard was truly an American original. He was born on June 15, 1896 in the house that he would live in his entire life. As a boy he did chores on the family farm and had little time to play, but when he did his imagination would take him to far off magical places.

As an adult he got to travel all over the country making magical memories for others. No matter how or where Howard roamed, his heart and home were always in Albion, New York.

Howard’s Santa career is that of a Legend. He first played Santa Claus in a 4th grade school play. Later as a young man, he played Santa for his church and was asked to help out a friend by being Santa in a store front window display in a local furniture store. These experiences prompted Howard to think about what Santa meant to the children.

During the course of the next few years, Howard continued to think about the Santa experiences and the smiles it brought to children’s faces. In November 1935, Charles W. Howard took a step with fate and officially embarked on a career as Santa Claus in a Rochester department store.

Howard would become famous portraying Santa Claus over the next 30 years. In 1937 he founded the world’s first Santa Claus School at his farmhouse in Albion after a local newspaper reporter suggested he train others to handle the demand for his services.

The next year he gave his growing fame a boost by teaching Santa classes in Santa Claus, Indiana. Eventually he would teach students from all over the country and became one of the most sought after Santas in the nation. Howard eventually appeared at department stores in Buffalo, Kansas City, and Dallas during different times in his career.

In the late 1940s, Howard started to convert three large barns on his farm into what became Christmas Park. This small attraction became known all over the Northeastern United States. Part of his concept in creating Christmas Park was to give the Santa Claus School a working campus with a classroom, dressing rooms, and extensive props to help better educate the student Santas.

In 1948 he became Santa for the Macy’s Parade in New York City and continued with the Parade until 1965. His Santa career led to appearances on television, in magazines, and newspapers; including: What’s my Line, To Tell the Truth, The Tonight Show, Life Magazine, and The Saturday Evening Post. He also contributed on Miracle on 34th Street.

Howard’s life cannot be captured in his Santa work alone. As a young boy he got a coping saw as a gift. His woodworking skills eventually led him to handcraft toys for the Medina Toy Company. Making toys was just one of Howard’s passions. Always one with a sweet tooth, he developed his own ice cream recipe and went into business with Howard’s Ice Cream.

Howard was well known for his work in the Albion community. He belonged to many civic organizations, served on many social committees, and was a member of the First United Methodist Church. Howard was also very active in many regional theatre productions. He wrote, directed, and starred in many plays and reviews in Western New York State.

His work with county and state fairs was also extensive. Efforts to publicize the produce of local farmers led Howard to make the world’s largest apple pie and build a scale replica of Niagara Falls with apple juice.

Whether he was promoting one of his many projects or being Santa Claus, Howard never forgot what was really important. He was first and foremost Charles W. Howard… a son, a husband, father, grandfather, church elder, friend, and community minded citizen. He loved his family, his friends, his town, and he loved to smile and make people happy.

Sadly, Howard passed away on May 1, 1966 at the age of 69.

During his life, Charles W. Howard never forgot the little boy inside himself that smiled at the world. He thought everyone should smile and nothing gave him more pleasure than when he could bring a smile to the face of another person, especially a child. It was a simple gift that he gave to everyone he met.

Rest in Peace Charlie…and thanks.

Wishing you all the very best and remember to always keep the magic and believe.


Phillip L. Wenz

Dundee, Illinois

Santa Claus Oath Foundation and International Santa Claus Hall of Fame, Charter Member with Class of 2010