SANTA’S LAND, PUTNEY, VERMONT – 29 JULY 2013 and Updates

October 19, 2017 — Santa and I emailed, and here is what he told me, “Still planning on a November open, final details and preparations still in the works.  Santa is getting ready!” When he gives me more details, I will share them here – Yours, RAY

AMAZING – I mentioned on Facebook on September 17 that I had updated my post with the reopening of SANTA’S LAND and in less than 24 hours (on the 17th) had over 2700 page views here. And by 8AM on Monday the 18th the visits had already climbed to over 800, and counting every minute. All due to over 370 “shares” of my Facebook post. THANK YOU – Let’s support David’s efforts to revive our treasure. Yours, RAY

To see my original 2013 post and images, scroll all the way down.

September 16, 2017

I stopped at Santa’s Land in Putney, Vermont today, hoping to catch the new owner. I found him and his teams hard at work. But he stopped work for a while touring me around, and chatting with me for news articles I plan. Below is David, our new “Santa” with the Santa from atop the main sign, and the second from his spot in the field near Rudolph.

SANTA’S LAND will be open weekends November and December 2017 in celebration of its 60th anniversary. I am currently writing an article for October issue of THE WALPOLE CLARION that I publish, and would love to be able to provide similar articles to area publications – just contact me. Following are some images from my visit today. You may click on an image to get a full size slide show.

The Iceberg Slide had been off-limits due to structural problems for years. It is now repaired and ready for the next generations of visitors.

and, here is where all kids will visit

just as I did on July 29, 2013

Yes, all I want is “good health, Santa!”

Bookmark this post — and check back for updates, but first also mark your calendars to visit Santa’s Land when it opens in November and December for weekends. Remember, visiting will help save this Roadside Americana treasure right here in the Connecticut River Valley. Thank you, RAY


 

I just discovered in my archives SANTA’S LAND brochures from 2005 to  2008. Click on this link to view them – SANTA’S LAND – HISTORICAL BROCHURES

HOW EXCITING
Renovations underway – July 1, 2017

And the latest – 2 June 2017 – I received the below email from David (aka Santa) who plans to reopen this nostalgic piece of Roadside Americana for all to share and continue the memories.

Dear Santa’s Land USA Supporter,

We have been busy!

A strong attempt to restore and reopen Santa’s Land USA in Putney Vermont is in progress. Mother Nature and vandalism has taken a toll and we need a little push along the way.

The link below is from Indiegogo, a funding page where friends and supporters can make a monetary donation. Please feel free to pass this along to those who may wish to help.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/santa-s-land-usa-christmas-family#/

Let’s keep the spirit and magic of Christmas alive.
Thanks and Best,
David
Santa’s Land USA — Putney, Vermont

FANTASTIC NEWS – 15 MARCH 2017
The Park may be purchased and reopened this summer.
I just read this in the Brattleboro Reformer
CLICK ON THIS LINK for the Article

24 March 2016 – just spotted on-line

Santa’s Land is eyed by animal lover and professional

and click here for the article from the Brattleboro Reformer

9 February 2016 — spotted as I drove by heading south on US 5 (I should have taken a picture) — FOR SALE !!!  So very sad. Not having been open in a year the “grandfather’s clause” allowing the park may have expired.

20 May 2015 – I wish that I had something to report because so many people land on this page. But, as of this date there is no news about what may, or may not, happen at Santa’s Land in Putney, Vermont. I will post what I learn, when I learn it. A group should be formed to preserve this historic piece of “roadside Americana.”

The below was posted on Facebook at about 6PM – Friday 26 December 2014. I wish “Santa’s Land” my best wishes.  I still think a devoted group needs to be formed to purchase and restore this historic place to its glory.  In my many visits and chats, I do not think that Lillian can do it herself.

FREE ADMISSION !!!

Santa’s Land will be open Saturday and Sunday, December 27th and 28th, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Santa will be there ALL DAY both days. Come join us and go down the slide with Santa, color pictures in the elves’ schoolhouse, give them to Santa and he will hang them in his house. Our snack bar will be serving hot chocolate, coffee, tea, soda and bottled water. There is an AFTER CHRISTMAS SALE in our gift store. Please come join us and please share this with your friends. Thank you. Lillian

I visited SANTA’S LAND in Putney, VT today, Saturday, December 20, 2014, and visited with Lillian. It has been a tough year for them. Today was the first day open, and I was the first visitor, and first customer. I bought a little tree for my collection, and she gave me a poster and pewter spoon. I hope this historic piece of roadside Americana can survive. Please visit tomorrow, December 21st and make a purchase. Here are some pictures I took today, hopefully another generation may enjoy Santa’s Land in Putney, Vermont.

Click on any image to open a slideshow of larger images.

POSTED on FACEBOOK ABOUT 5PM – Friday December 19, 2014

Santa’s Land is open tomorrow and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Admission is 8 dollars for anyone 3 years old and older. Military personnel, veterans and National Guard members are free and military families are half price. Due to insurance reasons, the rides and train are not allowed to run. Please understand we are doing the best we can during difficult times yet we did succeed in opening this season. Come say hi to Santa! Thank you. Lillian

They are trying – let’s go help support Lillian and her efforts for the little ones and our memories,

POSTED ON FACEBOOK – Afternoon of 18 December 2014

Santa and the elves are pleased to announce all our efforts are worth it. Santa’s Land will be open December 20 and 21. More information to come. Thank you all again for your words of support and encouragement. Please share this good news!!! Lillian

POSTED ON FACEBOOK – 10 DECEMBER 2014

We at Santa’s Land have had many recent inquiries concerning our opening this season. I, Lillian the owner, am very much aware of the tradition of many families coming to Santa’s Land during the holiday season. As a mother, I am extremely sensitive to this as I know how much family photos year to year mean. I am doing EVERYTHING within my power to open this season. We are dealing with last minute electrical permit issues and as soon as any information is available, I will post. I thank everyone who supports us and please share this with your friends. Please spread the word Santa’s Land is still alive! Lillian

The following was posted the afternoon of 3 August 2014 on SANTA’S LAND reactivated FaceBook page.  Closed so far this season, it appears a birthday celebration will be held in the parking lot this coming weekend 9-10 August 2014.

Please come join us Saturday and Sunday, August 9th and 10th for Santa’s 57th Birthday. Santa’s Land was opened August 10th 1957. We will be having a celebration in our parking lot area with merchandise for sale, toys, ornaments, clothing and more. Santa himself will be here for all the boys and girls and everyone. This is a BYOP (picnic) event and/or tailgate party. Admission: children under 3 years old, free, anyone 3 years old and over, 5 dollars. Active military, National Guard and veteran’s free and military families half price. Please come support Santa’s Land and wish Santa a Happy Birthday!!!

31 May 2014 — Saturday, and I stopped by Santa’s Land

and pulled into the vacant, barren parking lot.  Across the road, on the other side of US Route 5 was a peaceful group holding a myriad of signs stating “Boycott Santa’s Land” and “No Animal Neglect.”  I have avoided posting the sorrowful news of the alleged animal neglect over the winter by the new owners, and will continue to remain impartial.

I walked across the parking lot, past towering grass turning to hay, to peer into the entrance building.  Looking through several windows I saw a shambles and wondered why they stated they were opening last weekend.  Walking around the exterior fences it was apparent that the grounds were unkept and had not been attended to for a supposed opening.

Chatting with the group on the other side of the old US Route 5, it was obvious that they all loved and cherished their memories of the now 57 year old park, but also were most cognizant of the alleged animal neglect since the season ended in December.  I was told of their Facebook page Neglect at Santa’s Land, and have provided it as a link here so you too can follow what happens.

So many of us love original Roadside Americana, and there is sadly little of this innocent fun left.  Wouldn’t it be nice if a caring group could form a non-profit organization to purchase and preserve this little piece of Vermont for posterity?  Stay in touch, but the group told me they will post the most current happenings at Neglect at Santa’s Land.

30 May 2014 — TAKE NOTE
Santa’s Land Facebook page no longer exists and their phone is not in service.
I cannot find anything else out at this time, but will post here if I can.  Sorry, RAY

Posted on Facebook on 23 May 2014
Due to the prediction of rain and thunderstorms this weekend, Santa’s Land will not be opening this weekend, May 24, 25 and 26. Thank you for your continued support. Lillian (owner)

——-Below is my 2013 post (I have deleted the various 2013 Facebook posts———-

And click on this line to link to Santa Land’s Fan, Don’s post of his yearly visit.

I am pleased to have had so many search engine views of this page, and I hope many have visited as a result.  So, I thought it wise to add their hours for the rest of 2013:

Saturday & Sunday 10 to 5  through 22 Dec. 2013

If you read no further: RAY RECOMMENDS – Visit Santa’s Land, Putney, Vermont, an original 56 year old roadside Americana survivor – by a hair !!!  And, “vote with your dollars!”  And, tell them you read about Santa’s Land on SHUNPIKING WITH RAY.

Santa-1

Shortly after my dear-late Cathy and I moved to New Hampshire in 2002 we saw an article that SANTA’S LAND, since 1957 in Putney, Vermont, was for sale.  We dreamed – Cathy shared my love of Shunpiking and roadside Americana, but that was not the direction we were headed.  It was sold and saved.  Shortly after, grandson Alex (now going on eight) was born, we visited before Christmas one year with Alex, David and Mari.  It was fun.  Yesterday David, Mari and Gary came up from outside Boston to bring Alex to visit with Grandpa Ray (Yes, I know I do not look old enough to have a grandson) for a yet to be determined number of days.  We have a full schedule, much of which is tradition – based on things we did during his visit last year.  Mari and David mentioned that visit to Santa’s Land years ago, and Alex’s ears perked up.  I had passed last Sunday and saw cars in the parking lot, but not sure of the open days checked the website.  Website was not functioning (I learned today revamping is in progress).  David was surprised, “gee, Dad, what a smart idea to use the phone and call them.”  The message said, “Open 7 days until Labor Day, then weekends until Christmas.  Admission $10 – Veterans FREE (gee, my 22 years active duty US Navy qualifies).”  Open, and on today’s agenda!!!

Old Fashion round about. And there are also two "swinging gates."

Old Fashion round about. And there are also two “swinging gates.”

Shortly after lunch we headed over in BLUE BELLE (1960 MGA Roadster for my first time visitors) for the maybe 15 minute trip heading down US Route 5.  I love US Route 5 through Vermont and Massachusetts – the old road replaced by high speed, limited access and boring I-91 (remember my report of Dinosaur footprints?) but I do love cruising on un-crowded I-91.  We parked under some trees (intermittent rain expected) along with a few other cars.  I showed my US Navy Retired ID when we entered, and not only was my admission free, but Michael cut Alex’s in half – $5 for an afternoon of fun!!!  Not again, I will not accept this, I want them to continue for generations!!!

Well, my gallery of pictures (remember to click on one to enlarge and to browse them all) will give you a flavor of the treat that awaits you.

Santa-5

After a couple of hours a young man (25 – much younger than me) came up as the rain was beginning and said,  “you are the one with the sports car with top down, the rains are coming.”  “I am not worried, nothing bothers me anymore,” I replied.  Alex and I had just gotten ice cream, and posted on the window at the snack stand was a Brattleboro Reformer article from a few days ago reporting on the recent sale and reopening of Santa’s Land.  I had no idea!  And, Johnathan (yes with an initial second h – not a typo) who came up to talk to us was one of the new owners.

What fun I had talking with him, and learning of his families’ new passion.  We continued visiting through the light rain while the other folks departed the park.  I then visited with Santa, Alex (now alone in the park) enjoyed the slide some more, and as we headed to the exit we visited with Johnathan again, and saw BLUE BELLE with a cover over her – his brother had covered the cockpit with sheets.

Yes, all I want is "good health, Santa!"

Yes, all I want is “good health, Santa!”

I then thanked Michael (Johnathan’s brother) as we exited through the gift shop, and as we were leaving the parking lot Lillian (their mother) came running up to flag us down along with her sons.  We chatted, and I told her I wanted to do whatever I could to ensure their success.

So, please visit (if only to take a picnic lunch to savor under the pines on one of their picnic benches), bring your distant nieces, swim team, children, grandchildren, etc.  Now, Alex has been raised in the plastic Disney generation but loved our four plus hours there.  And he cannot wait to go back in a few days – but maybe that was because Johnathan promised he would wax the slide for Alex.

So, again, RAY RECOMMENDS: Hurry to Santa’s Land in Putney, Vermont, enjoy your nostalgic day, and spread the word.  Let’s keep the simple life alive forever!!!

Written just last month (October,, 2013), you may enjoy this article “A WRITER HEADS SOUTH TO VERMONT’S SANTA’S LAND”

You may enjoy visiting Don Johnson’s SANTA’S LAND FAN page for more history and information about this Putney, Vermont treasure  (added 23 August 2013)

PS – here is some recent history from the July 15, 2013, BRATTLEBORO REFORMER 

On July 7, Santa’s Land was reopened to the public for seven days a week until Labor Day. After that, the park will be open weekends until Christmas.

“One thing we have to respect is that we are not to change what has been tradition for the generations that have come before,” said Lillian Billewicz. “We want to leave it nostalgic, yet restore some of the attractions that need attention.”

Billewicz had been following the story of Santa’s Land since December 2011, when the park was about to be closed forever. She went to the park in February 2012 to check it out.  It was zero degrees outside. In a buggy, she was driven around the 42-acre property in snow and sleet.

“I saw it while I was bumping around,” she said. “I saw something — the potential.”

Billewicz told previous owners Tim and Lesley Wells that if they ever wanted to sell the park, they should contact her first. Billewicz was never notified.

In the fall of 2012, she saw Santa’s Land was up for auction and it triggered a maternal instinct.

“I said, ‘No, no, no. That’s not going to happen,'” Billewicz recalled.

The following two weeks, she and her two sons, Johnathan and Michael, began their attempts to save it from going to auction.

One of the major reasons for not wanting it to go to auction was that Santa’s Land was included in a grandfather clause for zoning that it would lose if it went out to auction. The grandfather clause also stated that the park couldn’t be closed for longer than a year. Since it was closed in 2011, it had to be reopened in 2012 or the grandfather clause would be lost.

The doors were open but ownership was still up in the air. Volunteers met through Facebook on the “Save Our Santa’s Land” page and the doors stayed open for a short time during 2012.

From January up until a few weeks ago, the Billewicz family has been in contract negotiations.

Since acquiring the park, friends and family have come up to the Putney property to assist with revitalizing some of the buildings and thoroughly cleaning the park.

PPS – Next month I will report on this fantastic find in my THE WALPOLE CLARION.  Sadly this discovery came a day after we sent the August issue to press.

This entry was posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to SANTA’S LAND, PUTNEY, VERMONT – 29 JULY 2013 and Updates

  1. Chris Burchstead says:

    I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I was once an elf working at Santa’s Land! (In my youth, lots of Vermont kids worked there for the summer). Do they still have animals there? There were lots of animals when I was there, which for me was the best part, except for a violent chimpanzee named Jingles that they kept away from the public. The worst part of the job was having to listen to Christmas Carole’s 24/7, and working in an unseated gift shop in December.

    • Ray Boas says:

      Oh, the memories. Thank you for sharing Chris !!!  Yes, a few animals there. Lllamas, goats, Emu, deer, lots of deer.  Let’s save SANTA’S LAND !!!

  2. Marian says:

    Great time for Alex. Glad you thought of it and made a wonderful day for both of you.
    Did you tell Santa what you want for Christmas?

    Big Hug,
    Marian

  3. Roberta Streeter says:

    My Mom and Dad were fast friends with the original owners! My Mom made a fancy cake for
    SANTA”S LAND – There are pictures somewhere in a family album ! I was a young child then!

  4. Don Johnson says:

    Thanks for sharing this trip report Ray – I’ve put a link to it on my “Santa’s Land Fan” page here: http://www.santaslandfan.com/slfan-blog.html

    • Ray Boas says:

      Thank you, Don, for the link. The new owners are really working hard and are dedicated to preserving this little piece of roadside history as it was originally intended. In completing an article for the local monthly town newsletter I publish (THE WALPOLE CLARION), I talked with Lillian today to confirm their operating hours for the rest of 2013. Daily through Labor Day, and weekends through December 22nd. Hours on the weekends will be 10-5, and admission is $10 per person age 3 and up. Veterans are admitted free and their families half price. I believe in what they are doing, and am spreading the word the best I can to help them survive. Let me know when you come visit again. From your email address I know you are in Conncecticut — years ago I too had SNET as my internet provider. Merry Christmas, yours, RAY

  5. Donna Theriault says:

    Yes, yes , yes, this wonderful , magical place brought our family together every October for years !!! We would go to Vermont and stay at a local hotel Saturday night. Out to breakfast at The Igloo House of Pancakes Sunday morning , then onto Santa’s Land for a seasonal family pre – holiday celebration!Cannot wait to visit again………

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