Officials will dedicate Route 31 in Albion for Charles W. Howard on Monday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 December 2020 at 7:45 pm

This photo shows Charles W. Howard as Santa Claus in a color postcard. The message printed on the back says, “Santa’s bag and sleigh all packed with wonderful presents for good girls and boys as he starts out on his annual trip. Which package is which, only he knows, but try and guess which one is yours at Christmas Park.”

ALBION – Local officials will gather at 2 p.m. on Monday to dedicate a section of Route 31 in memory of Charles W. Howard, who operated a Santa School and Christmas Park in Albion.

Howard started the school in 1937 and ran it until his death in 1966. The school continues in his name in Midland, Mich.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley will be at the dedication at the corner of Route 31 and Transit Road. Hawley and State Sen. Robert Ortt pushed the State Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to approve legislation naming the section of Route 31 in Albion for Howard.

The section from Transit Road to Wood Road near the 4-H Fairgrounds will be known as the “Charles W. Howard Memorial Highway.”

In addition to running the school and Christmas Park, Howard served as the Santa in the Macy’s Day Parade for 18 years.

The Albion Betterment Committee requested the section of Route 31 be named for Howard. The group has worked in recent years to have signage in place to celebrate Howard and his local legacy.

Howard also was a farmer and a toymaker with a flair for the dramatic. He was part of community efforts to build a model of Niagara Falls with 10,000 gallons of sweet cider in 1928. He also helped make a 12-foot-wide apple pie in 1929 and creating a 14-foot-high cake that weighed 3.5 tons.

He developed the Santa School after noticing many Santas didn’t have training, and didn’t always interact with children well or meet a standard for dress. He established decorum for Santas and his Santa Claus suits became popular.