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Santa’s Castle in Antioch gets new home, new name

Antioch Public Works employee dressed as an elf Ryan Parker Bristol Wisconscuts rojoist during constructifacade for Santa's Enchanted Village. Santwill

Antioch Public Works employee dressed as an elf Ryan Parker of Bristol, Wisconsin cuts a roof joist during construction of the facade for Santa's Enchanted Village. Santa will be located in the Antioch Chamber of Commerce building at 882 Main Street next to the village hall. | Thomas Delany Jr~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 14, 2013 4:49PM

ANTIOCH — Santa’s Enchanted Castle is moving and will be renamed Santa’s Enchanted Village when it opens Nov. 23 at 882 Main St.

Work on the new Antioch headquarters for Santa and his elves began Wednesday.

“The building department has approved the plans and the North Pole bonds and insurance certificates have been received,” Village Administrator James Keim said. “We are set to go with construction to make this year’s visit with Santa a truly special occasion.”

The castle, a one-of-a-kind portable wood structure topped with tin turrets, is starting to show its age, and after celebrating its 25th year in 2011, it is being retired, said Chamber of Commerce Director Barbara Porch. “It is simply no longer large enough or secure enough to continue to be the home for Santa in Downtown Antioch.”

For 25 years, the castle, designed by former resident and commercial artist Vince Giorgi, has been the heart of Antioch’s Christmas season, said Porch, with Santa hosting about 3,000 visitors annually. “It’s one of the few places remaining where Santa hosts visits for free, and Antioch is proud to offer that.”

Due to the popularity of Santa and the cold harsh winters, the Antioch Chamber, with the assistance of the village of Antioch and a crew of elves from the North Pole, will create a magical new home for Santa, trading in the castle for Santa’s Enchanted Village.

“Santa’s new home will provide many amenities that were not available before for those waiting in line for their Santa visit. These simple conveniences include indoor waiting for families, heat and restrooms,” said Porch.

Santa’s Enchanted Village will be located at 882 Main St., next door to the Village Hall and across the street from the PM&L Theatre. A separate entrance between Village Hall and the Chamber of Commerce office will be constructed before Santa arrives in the village during the Christmas Parade at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 23.

After attending the village tree-lighting ceremony, Santa will officially open Santa’s Enchanted Village sometime between 7 and 7:30 p.m. that night. The enchanted village will be open Mondays to Fridays from 5:30 to 8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. through Dec. 23.

Visits with Santa are always free, said Porch. Families can bring their own camera for pictures or have one of Santa’s helpers take photos for a nominal fee. Donations for Santa’s Enchanted Village are used to fund Antioch headquarters for Santa and for annual scholarships provided by the Antioch Woman’s Club.

Porch said it continues to take a village — in this case the village of Antioch — to make Santa’s annual visit a success. “It’s a huge community effort, taking about 100 volunteers to make it happen every year.”

There is a roster of 36 Santas, many of them 25-year veterans, costumed by JJ Blinkers Joke, Magic and Costume Shop. Antioch Woman’s Club provides two helpers dressed in long skirts, capes and old-fashioned caps to supervise the daily visits with Santa.

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