This was first posted last December as part of my now-defunct Walkabout Wednesday series. I'm repeating it because (1) it's neat Christmas trivia and (2) I'm without internet service [using my apartment's business center to do this and can't tie up the computer for long] and I need a blog for today. So bear with me and enjoy the rerun.
I thought it would be fun to have this month's Walkabout Wednesday revolve around places with Christmas names. As you can see from the photo to the left, there's a place called North Pole, Alaska, and I bought this ornament at the Santa Claus House there.
But North Pole, Alaska is not the only Christmas-named place in the US. The US Geological survey says there are:
* 142 places named Christmas
* 260 named Joy
* 11 places in 8 states named Santa Claus (they are in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon and Ohio)
* 963 Holly names
* 51 Noel names
* 5 Menorah names (okay, that's not Christmas, but it's a December religious holiday)
* 34 reindeer place names (and 27 are in Alaska)
* 22 states with places named Rudolph
* 24 North Poles
* 24 Mistletoes
* 5 Poinsettias
* 1 Wreath
And here are some factoids about places:
* Between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2007, the postmaster of Noel, Missouri processed 30,428 Christmas cards, which was double the usual volume of mail for this town
* Christmas, Florida, which is located between Orlando and the Kennedy Space Center, has a special mailbox to accept letters for Santa. They are handled by volunteers. All the streets in this town are named for reindeer.
* Santa Claus, Indiana is home to the Santa Claus Museum, Santa's Candy Castle and Santa's Lodge. The Candy Castle dates from 1935, but has modern technology and a webcam to the North Pole where kids can chat with an elf and verbally submit their wish list. You can't visit? Then go to http://www.santasgoodlist.org/ to play. The town also has quite the competitive spirit with a fruitcake eating contest and a fastest gift wrapping event.
* Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is called "Christmas City." It hosts a Christkindlmarkt like the ones in Germany and was given its name on Christmas Eve 1741 by Moravian immigrants. This year they're hosting something brand new -- the Peeps Fest! You can learn more at http://www.christmascity.org/.
* North Pole, Alaska is 12 miles from Fairbanks and was named in 1953. The North Pole Christmas in Ice Festival features ice sculpting contests and you can take a peek at http://www.christmasinice.org/. The Santa Claus House, where I bought my ornament, has a gift shop, Santa himself and real reindeer.
And speaking of reindeer, our very own Huntsville, Alabama is home to Reindeer, Inc., a company that's been exhibiting reindeer since 1980. They've had as many as 75 in the herd at times, and because Alabama summers are way hotter than a reindeer's usual environment, they are kept in air-conditioned barns. If you've seen the movie "Prancer" then you've seen one of Reindeer, Inc.'s animals. They've also appeared in a Mariah Carey video. Mostly, however, they appear locally to entertain kids at Christmas.
Have you been to the North Pole? Santa Claus, Florida? Have you ever petted a real reindeer? Share your Christmas place adventures with us today. I just got back from a weekend trip with two friends. The trip included a day at Stone Mountain which is decorated with millions of lights for the holidays including a tree atop the mountain itself.