Santa Claus, Indiana
1931 – Current
Patricia Koch believes.
Pat grew up in nearby Mariah Hill, Indiana in the 1930s and 1940s, Pat was the daughter of Isabella and Santa Jim” Yellig. Her childhood Christmases included helping her father reply to children’s letters and listening to him being interviewed by reporters from around the world, merrily ringing his jingle bells and talking about the joys of the holiday season.
After a decade away from home as part of the Daughters of Charity religious order, serving as a nurse in St. Louis, New Orleans and Chicago, Pat returned to Santa Claus and married Bill Koch, whose family owned Santa Claus Land (now Holiday World & Splashin' Safari). She and Bill worked side by side, growing the park and the town, and raising their five children.
Toward the end of the century, Pat’s interest in preserving the history of the town, the famous Santa Claus Post Office and her father's legacy became a passion. She founded the Santa Claus Museum in 2006 which merged with Santa's Elves, Inc. that same year. Now, Santa’s Elves are headquartered at the Santa Claus Museum & Village.
Pat’s devotion to preserving history, perpetuating traditions, and building a future for the Santa Claus Museum is apparent each and every day.
She is an Elf, a community leader, and keeper of Christmas.