First, an explanation as to what the Celebrate Santa Festival celebrated in the first place:
70 Christmases ago, two of the most prominent men ever to portray Santa Claus would find themselves together only once: at the original site of Santa's Candy Castle at Santa Claus, Indiana. The occasion was one of the earliest seminars conducted by Charles W. Howard, as part of the Course that bears his name even today, and has not changed since its first publication in 1937.
In the photo, from Phil Wenz' collection, Jim Yellig, who would later become a legendary Santa himself by taking up residence at the Candy Castle, is seen with his hand raised to ask a question of the Dean of Santa Clauses. The photo is believed to be the only known evidence that both men were in on this unusual event.
In October 2008, an oversized volume --- the Official Santa Claus Oath Book --- began an epic 5-month journey. Its destination: Gatlinburg, Tennessee --- site of the first 3-day Santa Celebration, headquartered at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. And so, the Great Book's journey ended on March 16th, 17th, and 18th, 2009, when over 600 Santas, Mrs. Clauses, Elves, Helpers and related Kringle-lovin' people from 38 U.S. States and three Canadian Provinces came together for three days of seminars, workshops, exhibits, and fellowship. And the Santa Oath Book was a major centerpiece of the event's indoor activities!
The book contains the complete history of that first Santa Convention of 1939 and a full chronicle of its 2009 descendant. For a brief time, the first signatures of those who willingly took the Santa Claus Oath were made available to all at the now-defunct official websites, CelebrateSantaFestival.com, HollyandShamrock.com, and CelebrateSanta.Blogspot.com; however, surviving remnants are still available at SantaClausOath.webs.com. With the Second Convention now over, the Book was sealed and returned to its Indiana home at the Candy Castle, where it remained until the most recent scheduled major gathering of Santas, which was held at the soon-to-close National Christmas Center in Paradise, PA, a few weeks before the 53rd Annual World Santa Claus Congress, at the Bakken Amusement Park in Klampenbourg, Denmark.
In a further twist of destiny, Celebrate Santa Festival founder Santa Joe Moore subsequently sent an e-mail to those involved with the event stating that, by his own admission, the Celebrate Santa Festival had become far too large and extensive for even the City of Gatlinburg to handle. To that end, Mr. Moore announced that he and his Mrs. Claus, Mary, were in negotiations to move the 2011 event, Convention, Festival, Parade and all, to Nashville, Tennessee --- and to reschedule the proceedings to a new date: possibly the third weekend of May, 2011. Since then, however, a terrible fallout has occured as a direct result, the circumstances of which are told elsewhere.
For those of you who are still interested in taking the Santa Claus Oath, here is the full text: