Santa to visit Shelby Iron Works Park

By SASHA JOHNS / Community Columnist

When Santa visits the heart of Shelby County, he does it in full Shelby County style.

Residents will be able to witness this in person on Dec. 6 at historic Shelby Iron Works Park when Santa arrives in his sleigh, pulled by a vintage tractor, to meet local children at the second annual Christmas at the Park.

“The reindeer have to rest up for Christmas Eve,” the big man said.

This will be a visit unique to any other in the area. Children will have the chance to peek into Santa’s workshop. Local Bill Wildes will be doing readings of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” in the one-room farmhouse. Free crafts will be handed out at the old schoolhouse. Last but not least, a family can grab dinner in the form of nachos or chili in the dining hall for just $5 per person.

Christmas in the Park was inspired by park volunteers, Paula Zabransky and Paula Shrader, who approached Jennifer Maier, the executive director of both the Shelby County Museum and Archives and the Shelby Iron Works Park, with the idea last year. Both women, along with an army of other hard-working volunteers, have made this event a big fundraiser for the historic venue.

“Christmas at the Park gives children the opportunity to visit with Santa, which I believe every child should have the chance to do. Personally speaking, when I was a child, the annual trip to see Santa was a big deal. It was a magical feeling and I want others to have that experience,” Maier said.

Pictures with Santa are $5, but admission and parking are free to anyone who wants to join the festivities. Every dollar raised from the dinner and the photos will be invested in park maintenance and projects.

Residents will have an additional chance to see Santa the following morning at the monthly pancake breakfast at the park, where he will be available for pictures from 8-10 a.m.

“We must have been extra good to have him visit us two days in a row,” Maier said.
Christmas in the Park is in the evening from 5-8 p.m. Find all the details from the event on the Shelby Museum and Archives Facebook page.

“We hope to continue to grow Christmas in the Park each year,” Maier said. “We feel it has the potential to become a great community tradition. We couldn’t do it without the help of our dedicated volunteers. We have volunteers who have been with the park since its early days, and we have new volunteers who are eager to help out. A special thank you is owed to the missionaries with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who provide volunteers for all of our events.