Medina Journal-Register — There are many recognizable characters that will float above New York City today as part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but the star attraction is of course the man in the big red suit — a tradition that one of Orleans County’s favorite sons brought to millions in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
If there was a Mt. Rushmore of the men whose creativity and dedication set the tone for how the spirit of Santa Claus is presented and celebrated in America, Charles Howard’s visage would surely be permanently etched in stone beneath his traditional red and white hat, with the puff hanging from a string.
That would be a fitting tribute for Howard, who was the featured attraction of the parade for 18 years, but far more reasonable efforts both locally and nationally are ensuring that Howard’s spirit is part of every Santa experience.
The Man in the Red Suit
In addition to going down in history as the “Dean of Professional Santa Clauses,” Howard is well-remembered for his ingenuity, commitment to his community and caring charm. Ken McPherson, an enthusiastic admirer of Howard, has Howard’s boots in addition to a house full of Christmas Park artifacts, but said no one could fill them.
”It’s just remarkable, astonishing that someone had that drive,” McPherson said. “I could live 10 lifetimes and not be able to do what he did.”
Howard, who had a toy business and ice cream shop, turned his Albion farm into Christmas Park, the ultimate holiday attraction for a generation of local children. His touches on the Santa suit are still seen as hallmarks thanks to a suit-making business that lived on for 25 years after his passing.
”He wanted it done right,” McPherson said.
A decade earlier, Howard’s home hosted one of the first classes for training Santa Clauses, where the details of how to properly present the fabled gift-giver were developed and imparted to students from across the nation.