One of my most cherished childhood memories was when my Dad piled us all into the ol’ 1970 Oldsmobile Delta 88 and we took off before sunrise from Dana Point, heading up to the San Bernardino Mountains. This is back in the day when freeways were six lanes, Crown Valley Parkway was four lanes, and seat belts were those things stuck under the seat cushions.
I’d sit up front on the folded down armrest so I could see out the windshield and we’d drive for what seemed like hours until we finally reached the base of the mountain.
Up the road we went, clawing ever higher around the curves, Dad turning the steering wheel, me sliding between his shoulder and my Mom’s. Up, up, and up into the clouds we drove until we finally emerged through a break in those rolling mists to see the bright Technicolor red rooftops of Santa’s Village.
We fed reindeer, rode in a bumblebee, talked with Mrs. Claus, and met the Big Man himself. I don’t know whether it was the thin mountain air, or meeting the guy who would finally bring me my bright yellow Schwinn Lemon Peeler 5-speed bike complete with sissy bar, but there is the distinct possibility that I may have swooned once or twice in his presence.
Then it all came crashing down.
By the time Santa had become a fond childhood memory, Santa’s Village had closed forever. Children all over southern California were forced to rely on dimestore rent-a-Santas who showed up in malls after Thanksgiving and overstayed their welcome.
Now, however, there seems to be good news! Santa’s Village may be coming back as part of SkyPark at Santa’s Village. You can find out more HERE (eventually). In the meantime, here’s a video from Bill Johnson: