Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School – Midland, Michigan - Atlas Obscura

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Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School

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


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. 

Know Before You Go

The address listed will take you about a mile northwest of the actual location. This is reflected on the location of the pin on the map as well. This issue stems from the fact that the house itself does not have an address--instead, only the street is located on is given. In Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Open Street Map you can get correct directions by searching "Santa House, Midland Michigan", but this is not an actual address.

It would be helpful to add something in the know before you go to the effect of:

The Santa house is located on the corner of M-20 and Main Street, directly next to the Midland County Courthouse (301 W. Main Street Midland, MI 48640). 

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