The holiday season is right around the corner and so is the opening of Santa's Castle in Storm Lake. Volunteers have been busy for the past four months preparing the Castle for this holiday season.
Thanks to the generosity of many volunteers and monetary donations approaching $4000, the Castle has experienced a new breath of fresh air and revitalization for 2001.
This year a great deal of effort has gone into the restoration of displays to ensure the Castle will continue as a holiday tradition in Storm Lake for many years. An essential ingredient to the Castle's future has been the support from the business community of Storm Lake.
However, the work is just beginning. To ensure a positive experience for the thousands of annual visitors, help is needed during the holiday season as well. The call is out for hosts and hostesses, readers, Santa's and others to make it a memorable experience.
"Santa's Castle promotes people coming into Storm Lake, and it promotes shopping," Marilyn Monson, Managing Director of the Storm Lake Chamber of Commerce, said. "Although the roots of the display is in promoting commerce, it has also become a tradition for many families and a Storm Lake attraction."
The Chamber of Commerce has already seen a generous outpouring of monetary support for Santa's Castle. The volunteer labor, not only from area businesses but the community overall, has been high as well.
Volunteers, who are led by chairs, Linda Kay and Gwen Bergendoff, have been working on Santa's Castle and have been renovating many of the displays in the hope of bringing some of its magic back. A number of animations were not working properly, and volunteers have been working toward restoring animations within the castle, as well as creating entirely new scenes and totally cleaning old favorites.
"Some repairs were done at Santa's Castle in the past to make it presentable, but it didn't benefit the Castle in the long term," Chris Nolte, CEO of the Storm Lake Chamber of Commerce, said. "The volunteers this year have done an incredible job of looking at the Castle from a longterm viewpoint and have made changes that will benefit the Castle in years to come."
Both Nolte and Monson complimented the work that Kay Bergendoff and others have done and the enthusiasm they have shown in their work. Vast improvements have been made to Santa's Castle this year.
"Santa's Castle is so important because it promotes people to come to Storm Lake not only for shopping but also for the traditional family activity of visiting Santa's Castle," Monson said. "It's something every year people look forward to. This year will be an exceptional year. People want to stay home and do things with their family, and Santa's Castle gives them that opportunity."
People in the business community can contribute to Santa's Castle in a number of ways, such as sponsoring a Christmas tree and decorating it, decorating the Castle prior to its opening, dressing up as Santa, working while the Castle is open to visitors or by making a monetary donation.
Volunteers are also needed to work on animations and decorations for next year's Castle at Santa's Workshop, which will be located in the former Pickett's building on Lake Avenue. Santa's Workshop will be open in the evenings and will allow people to stop and watch the work of the volunteers and to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and cookies. Also on display at Santa's Workshop are the poodles from Santa's Castle. To help out in any way, people can contact the Chamber of Commerce at (712) 732-3780.
To thank those who have volunteered or donated, as well as to encourage others to consider volunteering or donating, the Chamber of Commerce will be hosting an "Evening with the Elves" on Wednesday, November 14, from 7-8 :30 p.m., directly following the business after-hours sponsored by Hy-Vee at the Elks Lodge.
This open house and preview of Santa's Castle will be a by-invitation only event for Chamber of Commerce members, volunteers and other invited guest. Those in attendance will get a first-hand view of the vast improvements made at Santa's Castle this year.