Santa Hall of Fame to induct Christmas Park Santa from Albion
ALBION – In 2010 the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame was established in Santa Claus, Ind. The inaugural class included Charles W. Howard, the Albion resident who started a Santa Claus School in 1937. He ran that school until his death in 1966.
Each year, a new class of Santas are inducted into the Hall of Fame and the 2015 group includes another Santa from Albion: George Cond. He portrayed Santa at Christmas Park, which was developed by Howard on Phipps Road by the Santa Claus School.
Cond will be formally inducted into the Santa Claus Hall of Fame next month during a Santa Convention in Branson, Missouri. The convention was in Albion last year. The event will be in Branson from July 6-10 and about 1,000 Santas from around the world are expected. (Click here for more on the Santa conference in Branson.)
A committee reviews nominations for the Santa Hall of Fame and Cond was selected. He joins a Hall of Fame class that includes Ed Asner, who played Santa on the big screen. (Click here for more on the new Hall of Fame inductees.)
Cond was born in 1925 and lived until 1996. He is best known as the man who portrayed Santa Claus at Charles W. Howard’s Christmas Park in Albion, according to Cond’s Hall of Fame announcement.
“A student of Howard’s Santa Claus School, Cond assumed the role of Santa at Christmas Park in late 1950s and continued until the close of the park in 1966,” according to the Hall of Fame. “With Howard busy as the Executive Director and away on business during the Christmas Season, Cond handled most of the day-to-day Santa appearances throughout the park. He appeared in and around the Western New York State region on behalf of Christmas Park.”
Phil Wenz is spokesman for the Hall of Fame. He also was in the inaugural Hall of Fame class and portrays Santa full-time throughout the year at Santa’s Village Theme Park in Dundee, Illinois. Wenz also coordinated the convention in Albion last year.
“George Cond probably played Santa in Albion more than Charlie Howard,” Wenz said in an interview. “George was the day-to-day operational Santa. Charlie was a national star and George was more local. But to be Charlie’s hand chosen Santa that had to be a great honor.”
Cond also modeled Santa Claus suits for the Santa Claus Suit and Equipment Company owner Elizabeth W. Babcock in the 1970s and 1980s. Cond continued to make special Santa appearances to local families and events through the 1990s.
(Editor’s note: If anyone has pictures of Cond as Santa, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.)