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Strawberry Festival in June will celebrate Santa Claus and Charles Howard

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 December 2016 at 2:30 pm
This photo shows Charles W. Howard with a Santa at Christmas Park in Albion. Howard operated the Park and a school for Santa Claus in Albion until his death on May 1, 1966.

This photo shows Charles W. Howard with a Santa at Christmas Park in Albion. Howard operated the Park and a school for Santa Claus in Albion until his death on May 1, 1966.

ALBION – The 31st annual Strawberry Festival on June 9-10 will celebrate one of Albion’s most famous residents: Charles W. Howard, the founder of a school for Santa Claus.

The Strawberry Festival Committee met this morning and picked the theme for the 2017 festival. The group decided to highlight Charles Howard and Santa.

Participants in the parade are urged to have a Santa theme, and students who submit artwork for festival posters will be encouraged to include Albion’s connection to Santa.

Howard founded a world famous school for Santa Claus in 1937 and ran it until his death on May 1, 1966. The school has since been moved to Michigan, but still bears Howard’s name and teaches many of his principles.

Michael Bonafede, the coordinating chairman for the festival, said the committee wants to highlight Howard and his love for community.

“We’re celebrating his life and what he stood for,” Bonafede said this morning.

He expects Santa will be featured prominently in the parade, and there will be Santa-themed T-shirts and other tie-ins at the festival.

He also wants to build excitement and boost fund-raising for a bronze statue in honor of Howard. The Albion Betterment Committee has started that fund-raising effort.

The Albion Rotary Club is the main sponsor of the festival. Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self” was personified by Howard, Bonafede said.

The committee welcomes more volunteers to help plan and put on the festival. For more information, click here or call Bonafede at (585) 749-1413.

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