Santa's Village reopens as 'AZoosment Park'

May 27, 2011 4:04:24 PM PDT
It's not a zoo. It's not an amusement park. It's an 'AZoosment Park' filled with park rides and animal experiences.

Six years after Santa's Village closed in East Dundee, the park is open once again, under new management and with a new name: Santa's Village AZoosment Park.

It opened on Friday just in time for the holiday weekend.

True to its name, we immediately ran into Santa Claus, who was enjoying the rides and the great weather.

"We're on vacation, visiting boys and girls, but here the quest year round is to bring the joy of Christmas - it's making people happy and that's what Santa's all about," said Santa Claus, adding a jolly "Ho, ho, ho!"

Sitting on a somewhat smaller piece of property, the AZoosment Park has 11 mechanical rides, including a few from the now defunct Kiddieland. Catering mostly to young children, there are also pony rides and a petting zoo which, as expected, is one of the biggest attractions among both kids and adults.

"My brother decided, hey, let's take the nephews out and have a good time with them and they've enjoyed it," said Norma Smith. "It's not as crowded, so it's really great and the weather's perfect so it's been fun - they love it."

Although school is still in session, the park had quite a turnout Friday, including many young parents who grew up going to the original Santa's village and who visited with their own children.

"I have many happy memories of Santa's Village, honestly, and when I saw that they were reopening I knew I had the perfect thing for Lauren's birthday, especially since it grand opened on her birthday" said Erik Kellgren. "It's just fun seeing the smiles on their faces."

"I just remembered it a lot bigger, I guess because I was smaller," said Jennifer Sanchez. "It's nice to see that he's enjoying what I enjoyed as a child and hopefully creating memories just like I remember my memories."

Though Santa, who, by the way, has called the AZoosment Park his summer home since 1986, is just visiting for the Memorial Day weekend, he promises to return in July for a somewhat early Christmas celebration.

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