Charles Howard dons the red suit for his final Christmas season
ALBION – For nearly 30 years Charles W. Howard ran a Santa Claus school in Albion, teaching the art of playing Santa and establishing standards for dress and conduct.
Howard was also a popular Santa, playing the role in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade from 1948 to 1965. Howard played the part at many local functions as well, including his Christmas Park that was part of the school. Every year he had his friend Bill Coville of Waterport take a picture of him in the red suit.
The photo above is believed to be among the last known photos of Howard dressed as Santa Claus. It was taken during the holiday season in 1965. Howard died in May 1966 at age 69.
The photo was obtained by Frank Zicari of Albion, a Charles Howard enthusiast.
“Growing up, everybody knew that Santa Claus lived in Albion just outside of town,” Zicari said.
Howard’s school was near the corner of Phipps Road and Route 31. It was a big attraction in Albion, drawing lots of out-of-towners. The school has since moved to Midland, Mich. It still bears Howard’s name.
Zicari has collected many artifacts from the school’s days in Albion. Many of them are displayed in the Erie Canal Schoolhouse Bed and Breakfast in Albion, the former St. Mary’s Catholic School on Brown Street.
Zicari also shared this photo of Howard in a signature pose as Santa.