Each Christmas Eve, Santa himself visits the homes of little children-courtesy of the Santa Claus Club.
Santa’s parade starts at 3:30 p.m. when he begins his journey down the streets in the village to the tune of Here Comes Santa Claus. Soon afterward, he visits children age 10 and under in their homes, calling each by name and delivering a box of gifts.
The club was established in 1946 by 15 area men to provide gifts for the poor. Local clothing mills-an important source of employment-had died out and it was to be a bleak Christmas. To bring some Christmas spirit to the village, the men used money from their Army separation pay, and provided gifts on Christmas Eve for the children. Thus began the first Santa Claus Club in the nation.
The effort was greatly appreciated by local residents, who have supported the Club enthusiastically ever since, making it a true community event. The concept has been adopted by other communities throughout the country and international inquiries have also been made.
All of this happened in the village where Virginia O’Hanlon Douglas, of “Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus” fame died in 1971. The little girl who was looking for the spirit of Christmas and the existence of Santa, had found them both, alive and well, in Valatie, New York.