It’s a Grand Forks holiday tradition if there ever was one. Santa Village opens its doors each year to visitors just after Thanksgiving until just before Christmas. It is visited by “children” of all ages, the oldest on record is 101.
Lynne Roche and several other Grand Forks Park District workers created Santa Village something like 20 years ago. At first, just a few Christmas trees were on display decorated with dollar store ornaments. Today, visitors see 40 to 50 trees, all of them artificial, the fire marshal’s favorite kind, most of them with an individual holiday theme.
Truly one of Santa’s helpers, Lynne has been with Santa’s Village every year. Most days, she is there, making sure all the trees are lit, the cider and chocolate are just hot enough and that there are plenty of cookies.
Santa Village has moved to different locations several times over the years, most recently to provide more distancing for patrons because of COVID. This year, the village is back at its original location, the Lincoln Park Golf Clubhouse.
Now through Dec. 22, Santa Village is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and from noon until 6 p.m. Sundays. It’s also open Mondays through Thursdays by appointment and for private parties.
The Christmas trees are just the beginning. On Dec. 9 and 10 and Dec. 16 and 17, there will be magic shows at 1 p.m. Busy as they are this time of year. Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit those days until 5 p.m. On Dec. 10 and 17, there will be sleigh rides in the park (even if there’s no snow) from 1 to 4 p.m.
Admission to Santa Village is free. Donations of new, unwrapped toys and canned food items are encouraged.
All in all, Santa Village is a total holiday experience not to be missed.