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A Sneak Peek at Santa's Castle 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Everything is in place for the grand opening of Santa's Castle holiday season on Thanksgiving Day.

Work has been taking place since July in the classic former Carnegie Library that houses the holiday exhibit, one of the largest collections of antique holiday animated characters in the world, some dating back as far as the 1920s.

This year's theme is "A Magical Night at the North Pole." There are many new displays this year, and several restored pieces of animation that have not been seen by the public in many years.

Featured are a vast colection of photos, news articles, toys, buttons and signs from the early history of the Castle. The efforts started generations ago, as a small shack where children could be taken to meet Santa. A few old animations - the kind that were once featured in city department store windows long before the invention of TV - began to be collected, and by the early 1970s Storm Lake had become "The Christmas City." Anyone with memorabilia is invited to add it to the collection. Curator Ron Stevenson is shown putting the final touches on the wall of Christmas memories.

New this year is a "nighttime" scene for the vast toy train railroad; an expanded shop of christmas goods including books, ornaments and stuffed animals; a huge spinning tree; a village of mice at play complete with a miniature BV Hospital; and lots of collections on loan from Storm Lake enthusiasts.

Hours are 2-5 Thanksgiving Day, 1-4 on Friday and Saturday next week, and 1-4 on Sunday. After that the Castle is open weeknights 6-8, Saturdays 1-4 and 6-8, and Sundays 1-4. From December 19-23, hours will be daily 1-4 and 6-8. Christmas Eve hours are 1-4. From December 26-30 hours are 1-4 and 6-8.

Former Storm Laker and internationally-known teddy bear designer Steve Schutt will be on hand to autograph bears on Nov. 25. Author Lorrain Peterson and illustrator Delores Cullen will have a signing event for their new book next Saturday 2-4 p.m.

Most nights from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve, the first 25 child visitors will receive a special toy donated by Storm Lake businesses.

Pet Nights are December 5 and 6, and owners can have photos taken of their pets with Santa. On December 11, the Quilt Society will have handmade pillowcases for the first 100 children. Other events will be announced as the season continues.

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