The Workshop in 2011 was attended by over 125 Santas and Mrs. Clauses from across the nation! The 2012Workshop promises to be even bigger and better! We are also very proud that Mr. Philip Koch, the grandson of Santa Jim Yellig, has granted us the use of his grandfather's name...so it is with great pleasure and honor that the Workshop will be dedicated to the memory of the real Santa from Santa Claus, Indiana and be known as the Jim Yellig Santa Claus Workshop!
The the 2012 Jim Yellig Santa Claus Workshop is Thursday April 19th, an evening meet and greet, Friday April 20th, a full agenda, and Saturday April 21st, the Workshop itself.
The Jim Yellig Santa Claus Workshop is open to all who wish to participate no matter what your association is with any Santa group or organization. Presented as an interactive forum instead of a school, the Jim Yellig Santa Claus Workshop is designed to complement other existing Santa seminars, schools, and gatherings. The Jim Yellig Santa Claus Workshop is presented by Midwest Santa and is produced free of charge to the Santa Claus Community by the Santa Claus Oath Foundation. Just pay for your personal lodging...if needed, your food, and your travel expenses.
We appreciate the vendors that serve the Santa Claus Community and it our pleasure to say thank you with free vendor spaces. The Jim Yellig Santa Claus Workshop also supports the Santa Schools that have and do educate the new generations of Santas and Mrs. Clauses. We offer all Santa Schools free booth spaces and encourage all Santas and Mrs. Clauses to attend a Santa School.
The Jim Yellig Santa Claus Workshop is the Santa Claus Oath Foundation's way of giving back and saying thank you to all Santas, Mrs. Clauses, and helpers for the Christmas magic they create for children of all ages.
Santa Jim Yellig
Jim Yellig -“The Real Santa from Santa Claus, Indiana” Santa Claus, IN 1894-1984
One of the most beloved and legendary Santas of all time, Raymond Joseph Yellig (better known to his friends as Jim), was known as the “Real Santa” from Santa Claus, Indiana. Born in the small village of Mariah Hill, just a few miles north of Santa Claus, Yellig would become the face of Santa Claus, Indiana, for 54 years. Yellig appeared at Santa's Candy Castle and Santa Claus Town, the nation's first themed attraction, in the late 1930s. He answered children’s letters sent to the Santa Claus Post Office for over 50 years. A World War I veteran and an active Legionnaire, Yellig added to his fame by appearing in American Legion Christmas parades in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. In 1946, Yellig became the resident Santa at Santa Claus Land, the world’s first theme park. A position he held for 38 years. No Santa before or since has had as many children visit him in person as Santa Jim Yellig.
The Midwest Santa group is based in the central section of the United States. It is their desire to host and encourage Santas from throughout the region to get together for food, fun, and fellowship on a quarterly basis, if not more often. Since 2007, a spring gathering has been held every year by the membership of Midwest SANTA. From 2007 through 2010 it was held in Oglesby, Illinois. In 2011 the spring meeting was held in the town of Santa Claus, Indiana and renamed the Santa Claus Workshop. With the success of the 2011 spring meeting and Workshop, over 125 attended, Midwest SANTA will be hosting their annual spring meeting in Santa Claus each year as an annual event. The Workshop has been re-named the Jim Yellig Santa Claus Workshop after the legendary Santa.
Membership for Midwest Santa is open to all Santas (real bearded and traditional bearded), Mrs. Clauses, Elves and helpers. Membership is also open to those who are considering becoming Santa, Mrs. Claus or an elf. While Santa is typically considered the "star" Midwest Santa freely acknowledge it takes us all to create that special magical moment for boys and girls of all ages. Everyone is important.
Hosts for the Jim Yellig Santa Claus Workshop are Midwest Santa’s Michael Sypherd and Jerry Owens.
Santa Claus Oath
I will seek knowledge to be well versed in the mysteries of bringing Christmas cheer and good will to all the people that I encounter in my journeys and travels.
I shall be dedicated to hearing the secret dreams of both children and adults.
I understand that the true and only gift I can give, as Santa, is myself.I acknowledge that some of the requests I will hear will be difficult and sad. I know in these difficulties there lies an opportunity to bring a spirit of warmth, understanding and compassion.
I know the "real reason" for the season and know that I am blessed to be able to be a part of it.
I realize that I belong to a brotherhood and will be supportive, honest and show fellowship to my peers.
I promise to use "my" powers to create happiness, spread love and make fantasies come to life in the true and sincere tradition of the Santa Claus Legend.
I pledge myself to these principles as a descendant of St. Nicholas the gift giver of Myra.
Santa Claus Oath is copyrighted under an attachment with Arcadia Publishing 2008 by Phillip L. Wenz. protected and registered with Creative Commons License 2008 by Phillip L. Wenz
If ever there was a man born to be Santa Claus it is Phillip L. Wenz. As a four-year-old child, he donned his first Santa outfit. By the time he was fourteen he was in his first parade and at the ripe old age of twenty-four, he became the year-round Santa Claus for the iconic Santa’s Village Theme Park in Dundee, Illinois. It is an association he has now had for more than twenty years. He is one of the longest tenured Santas in the park’s 50 year history and as one of the very few full time professional Santa Clauses, he appears in costume at the park and at special events over 200 days a year.
Wenz has appeared in over 30 Christmas Parades including the nationally televised parades in Chicago, Illinois and Houston, Texas. He has been Santa on numerous TV shows, billboards, commercials, and magazine covers, along with appearing at some of the nation’s largest corporate and civic holiday events, including emceeing the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremonies in both Chicago and Houston. As Santa he has been given the title of "Chicago's Very Own" by WGN-TV, awarded the 1994 Brass Ring Award for Best Theme Park Commercial by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), and received the "Hats Off 2 Houston" award from KPRC-TV in Houston.
His resume also includes work in Santa Claus, Indiana at the historic Candy Castle, consulting on Christmas programs, and being a published author. He is considered a leading authority and historian on the Santa Claus legend, history, and folklore. Wenz is, bar none, one of the most experienced Santas in the world and is the creator of the Santa Claus Oath, which is widely accepted by nearly every Santa portrayer across the globe.
The Santa Claus Oath outlines eight principles that any portrayer of Santa Claus should follow. Wenz created the Oath in April 2008. The framework of the Oath was inspired by two legendary Santa Clauses, Jim Yellig of Santa Claus, Indiana, and Charles W. Howard of Albion, New York. The Santa Claus Oath is dedicated to both of these men. In March of 2009, at the worldwide Santa Claus Convention in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Wenz gave the keynote speech and presented the Santa Claus Oath for the first time in public to the Santa Claus community. At the convention, over 600 Santas, Mrs. Clauses, and helpers recited in unison the Oath’s eight principles.
As the author of the Oath and a premiere collector of Santa Claus artifacts and memorabilia, Wenz has been asked to confer on numerous projects in the television, film, literature, and media industries. In 2009, he developed the Santa Claus Oath Foundation to make his research materials and collections available to more people, companies, and civic organizations, including the Santa Claus community itself. The Foundation is an establishment specializing in the preservation and perpetuation of the Santa Claus Oath, the Santas of the past, Santa history, and Santa artifacts as a chronological part of the Legend of Santa Claus to educate the current and future generations of those who are or will be a Santa Claus in the tradition of St. Nicholas the gift giver of Myra.
Wenz is also the owner of Santa Claus Productions. Established in 1989, Santa Claus Productions is the parent company to many of Wenz’s business to business relationships. Clients include the City of Chicago, Santa’s Village, Houston Downtown District, Brach’s Candy, St. Nicholas Development, Santa & Co., LLC, The Weber Group, Nicholas of Myra – The Movie, ClausNet, Santa America, numerous chambers of commerce and business associations. Part of the company’s broad base is in the tourism and special events field with its public relations skills and working knowledge of the unique Santa Claus and Christmas industries.
In December 2010, Wenz was bestowed with the highest honor a Santa Claus can receive; enshrinement as a charter member into the Santa Claus Hall of Fame in Santa Claus, Indiana. Of the original 14 honorees, including the first department store Santa and several men born in the 19th century, Wenz is the first living Santa Claus to be inducted.
How I met Santa Claus Jim Yellig by Phillip L. Wenz
It was a homework assignment that I will never forget. Sometimes in life what you think is a disaster turns out to be a true blessing. I began playing Santa at the age of four years old in Havana, Illinois. I continued that family tradition all the way into high school in Watseka, Illinois to my freshman year. That year, at the age of 14, I became the local Chamber of Commerce Santa and started to appear in parades and at Santa’s House in downtown Watseka. It was fun, enjoyable, and something I really like to do, even at such a young age.
During my junior year in high school, my English teacher assigned a thesis paper to our class on what we wanted to do for a career after we graduate. Well, I had been playing Santa for the chamber for a few seasons and I thought…why not just be Santa as a career. I had heard of one man who had done this. So it could be done…right?
A few years earlier I had seen a newspaper article on a man from southern Indiana that was the year-round Santa at Santa Claus Land theme park in Santa Claus, Indiana. His name was Jim Yellig. Yellig had been at Santa Claus Land since its inception in 1946. Santa was his job, but most importantly it was his vocation. He did not play Santa, he was Santa.
The English assignment required that I do research on my “dream” career and so the first thing I did was hit the library and research Jim Yellig. I found out a lot about this man...a WW I veteran, an American Legion Post Commander, and a career Santa Claus. I gathered as much information on Yellig that I could find, but it was not enough. So I decided to write him a letter about how to be a year-round Santa Claus.
It felt kind of strange, being a 16 year old junior in high school, writing a letter to the Santa Claus of Santa Claus, Indiana, but I did it anyway. I asked in my letter for advice on how to make Santa a career, what education was needed, and if there was any special requirements. I told him a little bit about my background as a young Santa and that I was doing a paper on a career that I wanted to pursue. I addressed it to Santa Claus and mailed it to Santa Claus, Indiana.
I went about the business of writing the paper for class, half thinking how silly it was to bother a professional Santa with my pipe dream. I really didn’t think that Jim would reply. Well I could have not been more wrong.
I came home from school one afternoon to find an envelope addressed to me lying on the kitchen table. As I picked it up, I noticed it was from Santa Claus Land. I had just gotten a letter from Santa.
I took the letter into my bedroom and opened it very cautiously, not knowing what the contents might be. The envelope contained a handwritten letter from Jim Yellig and a book called, “It’s Fun to be a Real Santa!” I very carefully read the letter.
Thank you for your letter dated the 10th of April. Your request is one that I am not sure Santa can fill, but he will try. First of all you have to have the love of Christmas and children in your heart. You must understand this as without it you are just wearing a red suit. Be dedicated to the magic that Santa holds for a child, understand the religious meaning of Christmas, and be kind to the elderly as they are your children also.
Get as much general education as you can, study, study, and more study. Then ask the Good Lord for guidance as he will know what path he will lead you. Please let me know how your paper turns out.
Santa Jim Yellig, the Ho-Ho-Ho of Santa Claus, Indiana.”
The letter and the book inspired me. Santa had written me back. I showed the letter to my parents who thought that the message and tone of Jim’s letter was very honest and motivating. They also stated that I better get busy on the paper as it was due in a few days.
I wrote the paper with a sense of excitement that I had never had before. I carefully crafted each paragraph and cited my references. When I was finished, I had the paper typed by my Dad’s secretary to make sure all punctuations and grammar was correct. I then turned the paper in to my English teacher.
About a week passed and finally in English class the paper was retuned to me. I opened the red folder that incased the manuscript with great anticipation. I looked at the teacher's remarks. I got a “D” with a comment added, “An unattainable goal.”
I was heart broken. At least she could do was encourage me a bit or maybe say that Santa could be a hobby, not a profession. But she didn’t. As requested, I wrote Jim another letter to let him know how the paper turned out.
It was about a week later that Jim replied back and he was a little surprised at the mark I received. “Don’t let one person’s opinion discourage you from any of your dreams.” he stated. And he gave me even more encouragement.
I continued to play Santa during the rest of my high school days and college days. Jim and I would correspond letters and phone calls back and forth over the years. I even traveled to Santa Claus, Indiana to meet him and talk to him in person on occasion. He always encourage me, giving me sound advice along the way. Jim became my mentor even though he may have not fully realized it. He was also my friend. Jim Yellig passed away in 1984 at the age of 90. I was 22 years old at the time.
Well, I did become a true year-round Santa in 1985 when I was hired by Instant Photo Corporation of America. And the rest as they say is history.
I will never forget Jim Yellig’s kindness and his advice. I will never forget our conversations and I will never forget what I like to call Jim Yellig’s three “Rs” of being Santa.
“To be a great Santa you have to do the research, rehearse the part, and lean how to render the role. You have to become Santa, not play him.” That’s what Jim Yellig taught me.
Jim gave me a gift I can never repay… and he helped me get a “D” on my English paper along the way.