While a “spokes elf” said the reindeer loved it and his boss Santa was able to meet with some guests, an early-season snowstorm on Saturday caused Santa’s Village to first delay, then cancel its opening.
Along with much of the North Country, Santa’s Village in Jefferson got several inches of the white stuff, beginning very early in the morning and continuing until about noon, Jim Miller said on Sunday.
“We welcome snow and particularly how the park looks” after a snowfall, Miller said of the theme park founded in 1953. “But for us, the issue was that it started overnight and it was very heavy and very wet.”
“We have a lot of trees,” Miller said, many of which still have their leaves.
The accumulated several inches of snow posed a threat to visitors, he said.
“As we plowed out, we saw branches get heavier and heavier and our concern was with the effect of the snow on the trees; otherwise we’d be OK,” said Miller.
The park pushed back the opening time from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., but at 11, the decision was made not to open, he said.
By that time, however, 65% of visitors who had reserved a ticket were there, said Miller. The park went to a “Plan B” that it first used on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in 2013.
On that date, there was a similar “freak snowstorm,” Miller recalled, which also saw many visitors come from near and far.
Then as on Saturday, he said, Santa’s Village temporarily opened Main Street, but not the entire park. That meant visitors could say “hi” to Santa, get a cookie, a warm drink, a ride on the carousel and avail themselves of restrooms before heading home.
The park refunded the cost of everyone’s ticket because the experience was not what Santa’s Village hoped and intended to provide, said Miller.
The park’s Merry Trick or Treat was back up and running on Sunday; its season ends Oct. 25.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic and guidelines that restrict close contact, such as sitting on Santa’s lap, Miller said Santa’s Village has done well in the 2020 season.
Re-opening in June at 25% percent capacity, which by the end of August increased to 35%, Santa’s Village has sold out “two-thirds of the days we’ve been open,” Miller said.