Dec 19 2019
PUTNEY - When
Santa's Land opened in this town in 1957, the Christmas-themed amusement park offered fair-weather visitors the chance to step into a wintry forest seeded with picnic tables, playground swings and clapboard cottages blanketed in Styrofoam snow.
"The project is designed to appeal to children and their elders alike," the local newspaper reported of the 40-acre site promising homegrown products such as maple syrup and an on-site post office with its own cancellation.
Then the interstate and internet pulled everyone elsewhere. In 2003, an out-of-state man considered turning southern Vermont's North Pole into a $6 million "Silverado" cowboy attraction. A decade later, a local woman announced plans to revive the pine-covered park, only to face animal cruelty charges and file for bankruptcy when authorities discovered more than a dozen dead, underfed reindeer.
Santa's Land closed five years ago. But the Christmas season is known for miracles. Enter Connecticut magician David Haversat, a childhood visitor who bought the site in 2017.
"Considering its condition, the park could easily have been wiped away by a purchaser hoping to redevelop the large property," the Preservation Trust of Vermont notes.