Midland, Michigan

Charles W. Howard Santa School

There is an art, a science, and certainly a responsibility to occupying The Big Red Chair, and this is where it's learned

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In 1934, Charles W. Howard (a former Macy's Santa) established a Santa school in direct response to his displeasure with seeing other Santas in frayed suits and cheap beards, and a shockingly inadequate knowledge of reindeer.

The school was well-received and is still in operation, and Charles' curriculum is taught to this day. Classes include studying the history of Saint Nick and Santa Claus, proper dress and make up, Santa sign language, reindeer habits (studied with live reindeer) and Santa flight lessons.

It's declared by CBS as "The Harvard of Santa schools," and you would think that the oldest school dedicated to being his Royal Jolliness would be at the North Pole, or at the very least somewhere near where the Santa Claus myth started, but the Charles W. Howard Santa School is located in an otherwise ordinary town in Michigan.

The neutrality of its location doesn't seem to put a damper on the authenticity of the school. With its gingerbread-like exterior and an interior that emulates Santa's workshop, prospective students get the full Santa Claus experience in the school's once-a-year, intensive three-day course.

While students of the school go through the traditional classes in Charles' original curiculum, changing times called for a few modern classes as well. There are classes on negotiating contracts (for things such as bathroom breaks and the like), as well as how to avoid trouble with lawsuits and accusations of less-than-wholesome behavior (the golden rule is to have your hands visible at all times to avoid possible suspicion).

The three-day course starts in October, and registration is open year-round. Be warned, however, that you should be prepared to write a stunning short essay on why you want to attend, and outlining what a fantastic Santa you would be. 

  • Address
    2408 Pinehurst Court, Midland, Michigan, 48640, United States
  • Cost
    $425 for first time students
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