Santa’s Holiday in the Park 2018
Greene County Parks & Trails’ (GCP&T) popular Santa’s Holiday in the Park returns this year with several new festive features that will continue to create lifelong memories for families throughout the region.
The holiday festival will be held from 6 to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5, to Saturday, Dec. 8 at James Ranch Park, 177 Fairground Rd., Xenia.
Event attendees will park at the Fairgrounds Recreation Center, 210 Fairground Rd.
New this year, a life-sized holiday snow globe will allow patrons to enter and become part of the winter scene. A photographer will capture the memory and provide a print for free to the family.
As always, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will be greeting families within the 1800s brick home at James Ranch Park. Photographs will be available from betterImages with packages starting at $5 for a 5-by-7 print; photos will be mailed to patrons within 24 hours of ordering. Families may also take their own photographs or videos.
Within the historic home, letters to Santa may be written and mailed with assistance from the elves from Greene Memorial Hospital/Soin Medical Center. Temporary holiday tattoos will also be offered.
Park patrons are invited to walk James Ranch Park that will feature thousands of LED lights for an even brighter holiday and more than 50 animated lighted displays placed throughout the park. Event attendees are encouraged to dress appropriately.
Activity and hospitality stations will be scattered throughout James Ranch Park and feature such holiday favorites as:
- Hot chocolate (nominal fee)
- Ornament-making with wooden ‘cookies’ created from ash trees removed from Greene County Parks & Trails sites (one per person)
- Ornaments made with pine cones
- Handmade candles made on-site
- Reindeer food to take home
- Roaming holiday costumed characters
- Holiday wooden cut-outs for photographs
- Kettle corn (nominal fee)
Sponsors of this year’s event include Greene Memorial Hospital/Soin Medical Center and betterImages.
Donations of $1 per person are suggested with all funds raised invested back into the event for future years.
“Santa” from First GCP&T’s Santa’s Holiday in the Park Returns for One Night
As the first Santa and creator of Greene County Parks & Trails’ Santa’s Holiday in the Park in 1996, former park volunteer Chuck Routzohn will be returning for one night 22 years after his first appearance at the event.
I’ve been portraying Santa Claus for almost 55 years all over Ohio and would never accept payment,” Routzohn, 83, says. “My payment is the child who smiles and laughs as well as the parents who can forget about their problems for a little while.”
A former resident of Amlin Heights in Xenia, Routzohn and his wife, Sharon, worked with GCP&T to create the first Santa’s Holiday in the Park at Sara Lee Arnovitz Park, 350 Kinsey Rd., Xenia. He provided the decorations for two bridges and some holiday figurines while Sharon offered hot chocolate and coffee.
The park agency expected about 30 people; almost 250, however, turned out to visit with Santa on Dec. 24, 1996.
“We actually had a traffic jam on Kinsey Road with the rangers directing traffic, Routzohn said.
A Greene County Commissioner attended that first year, Routzohn said, and wanted assurances the event would happen every year.
Routzohn remembers ‘playing’ Santa for thousands of children and even horses, rabbits, cats and dogs.
One child asked if he would be Santa for her horse and brought him to James Ranch Park during the event.
Other memorable holiday visits included a little girl who leaped into his lap, pulled up her dress and shared “I have real panties on; I’m a big girl now” while her parents laughed in the crowd.
Bittersweet memories include two little girls who wanted their house back as it had just burned to the ground. One young boy and young girl wanted their Dad to get his stolen tools back so he could back to work.
Routzohn arranged for a local tool store to offer the man a discount to purchase his new tools.
After several years at Sara Lee Arnovitz Park, the event needed more space and relocated to GCP&T’s Fairground Recreation Center, 210 Fairground Rd. Xenia. A few years later, Santa’s Holiday in the Park moved to its present location at GCP&T’s James Ranch Park, 177 Fairground Rd., Xenia.
Retired from DP&L after 40 years, Rouzohn also helped with the electrical needs for the event at their new locations.
The current location offered a 1800s home for Santa ---and now Mrs. Claus --- as well as additional space for holiday crafts and a holiday light show featuring thousands of twinkling displays.
Routzohn, who now lives in Washington C.H., will return as Santa on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at GCP&T’s Santa’s Holiday in the Park, to create even more lifelong memories.
“I still see grown adults who come up to me today and tell me they remember me being Santa Claus,’ he says. “After all of these years, I know I still believe in Santa Claus.”
(LEFT) Chuck Routzohn shows off his lifetime of newspaper clippings from his adventures as Santa Claus.
(RIGHT) As his alter ego several years ago, Chuck Routzohn gets into his Santa Claus costume.