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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Santa's Land

In the tourist mecca of Cherokee, NC lies a very special place.  A place trapped in time.  This place is simply known as Santa's Land.  Santa's Land was built in the 1960s and as far as I can tell, they have hardly changed a thing.  Much like Jurassic Park Santa's Land is an amusement park trapped in time.  Over the years my family has made several trips here.

Driving through Western Carolina you will notice the signs that look as though they are old as time themselves.

Leading you to the gates of Santa's Kingdom.........

Once you cross the gates of Santa's Land you are immediately hit by one thing.................the smell of bear poop.....

Yes, Santa's Land's "Zoo" is one of the facilities that Bob Barker traveled all the way to Cherokee to try to shut down.  There are some key differences.  Santa does not keep his bears in a pit.  The bears at Santa's Land are kept behind a chain link fence that you can walk right up to and stick your fingers in.

Santa's Land did hold the distinction of being the only roadside zoo that allowed Bob Barker tour their facility.  He didn't exactly love it though.

I won't try to white wash it.  It is a little disturbing to watch a nature presentation done by an elf feeding a baby bear kool-aid out of a bottle.

Since it is Santa's home turf, they have some reindeer, complete with peek holes for them to be fed.

As well as other rare animals....

Santa's Land is not a one trick pony and is far more then a roadside zoo.  Under the cloud of bear stink, the first think you see once you enter Santa's Land is this.

A giant creepy rabbit!  Look at his crazy face!

Did I mention this horrifying thing is like 12 feet tall?

Joining this rabbit in its statue garden is this somewhat questionable Eskimo.

As well as a menagerie of other fiberglass beasts....

As you make your way through Santa's Land you come across a church.  Now this church is mostly empty, but it used to contain one of the most amazingly creepy things I have ever come across.

Hit the button and the Mannequins came to life.  Well, they writhed a bit while garbled gospel music played in the background.

Vintage postcards of Santa's Land show that this exhibit changed over the years a bit.

Looks like these little Cherubs didn't age too gracefully.  Fortunately, they kept that awesome hippy Jesus.

If its live entertainment you crave, make sure to catch a magic show by "The Amazing Gene"

Of course one of the main attractions at Santa's Land is the paddle boats.  What's so special about paddle boats, you ask?

First of all, the lake is filled with the largest most aggressive, frightening Koi I have ever seen.

Take a look at them in action....

Oh, yeah, and you also get to chunk food to Monkeys on islands surrounded by electric fences........

As you are trying to thrown a dog biscuit at a lemur while Koi are shaking your boat back and forth you wonder if you are in some sort of strange nightmare.

Also, in the realm of nightmares is a series of small buildings housing dioramas.

Take a look at this charming tableau of Santa's Elves.

Did I mention that they move???

Here is a compelling exhibit on how Santa's Laundry gets done.

Sadly, when I visited a few years later, this back breaking labor, had caught up with Miss Deer.

Santa Claus, being a figure in the public domain, has no fear of copyright attorneys, as these depictions of the Keebler elves show.

And of course no Southern Tourist Attraction would be complete without the ubiquitous Moonshine Still.

 The main event at Santa's Land is undoubtedly the Rudiocoaster.  A short, but exciting roller coaster with the head of Rudolph.

Check out, the short bumpy ride.......

Of course one cannot visit Santa's land without seeing the man himself and allowing him to scare your children....

Here is a vintage postcard of Santa being groomed by one of his "helpers"

Hope you all enjoyed, this virtual trip through a theme park trapped in time..........

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to e-mail me at
and check out my Flickr Photostream

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Put Your Head in the Hole

It is very rare that one man can make two major unrelated contributions to western society.  Louis Pasture invented both the small pox vaccination and the process of milk pasteurization. 

Another such man is Cassius Coolidge.  Cassius's first creation was an imagine that is thoroughly entwined in America's culture and landscape.  You have seen this imagine time and time again and likely never stopped and though, "Gee, I wonder who painted that."

Property of Cassius Coolidge

Dogs playing poker.  A landmark in kitschy home decor.

For most men, such an iconic contribution would be enough, but not for Cassius Coolidge.  He created another masterpiece, one that you have probably seen at about any vacation spot across the country.

Coolidge invented the "Comic Foreground".  Paintings you could stick your head through form comic effect.  The effect is simple and classic, but it does not come without its own dangers.

I am always a sucker for these cut outs.  Here is my collection of photographs of cut outs from around the country.

White Squirrel Festival.  Bervard, NC

There are two types of people in this world.  Those who will put there head in the hole and those who will not.  My daughter will always put her head in the hole.

Cypress Gardens, SC

Tiger, GA

Key West, FL

Busch Bean Museum. Dandrige, TN
Mothman Festival.  Point Pleasant, OH

Atlanta, GA
On the rare occasion I can bribe my son into participating.

Weeki Wachee, FL

Or my mom....

Babyland General.  Cleveland, GA

Or my wife....

Hell, MI
Most the time, I have to resort to taking pictures of the empty foregrounds.  Which I actually find have a really cool vibe to them.

Helen, GA

Macon, GA

Maggie Valley, NC

The Old Jail.  St. Augustine, FL

Maggie Valley, NC

Helen, GA

Gatlinburg, TN

Nasheville, TN

Seale, AL

Plains, GA

Tiger, GA

Mountain Mall.  Gatlinburg, TN

Quaker Steak and Lube Charleston, WV

Shell Factory.  Ft. Meyers, FL
Here may be the grandest photo opportunity of them all at Santa's Land in Cherokee, NC.  Look at all those holes, just ignore the fact that none of them make any sense.

Santa's Land. Cherokee, NC
Let's all take a moment to thank Cassius Coolidge for his contribution to our family vacations.

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to e-mail me at
and check out my Flickr Photostream