“The Real Santa from Santa Claus”
Santa Claus, Indiana
1894 – 1984
International Santa Claus Hall of Fame Charter Member – December 2010
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. 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.