An Indiana story

Do you believe in Santa Claus? Answer no to that question in a certain small southern Indiana town and you'll be considered an enemy of civic advancement.

Back in 1852, Santa Claus was called Santa Fe. The locals were trying to get a post office set up and had been told they could not use the name Santa Fe, as that was already taken by some place down in New Mexico. They needed another name.

The arguments as to what that name should be went on all year. Eventually, the townsfolk decided to have one final meeting after church on Christmas Eve. It was a freezing night and the wind was howling as the debate raged back and forth.

Suddenly, the doors of the church blew open. The children, bored by the discussion and impatient to get home, were delighted. "Santa Claus! It must be Santa Claus!" they shouted.

Today, predictably, the whole town positively glistens with Christmas connections. Merely reading the street names is enough to give you that sickly, too-much-chocolate-on-Christmas-morning feeling. Candy Cane Lane. Mistletoe Drive. Arctic Circle. Even Balthazar, Melchior and Kasper Drives. One is tempted to imagine the snorts of sceptical laughter at the mail-order catalogue call centres when they are asked to deliver a package to Jingle Bell Lane in Santa Claus, Indiana.

Even the three fire trucks in the Santa Claus Volunteer Fire Department garage are named Rudolph, Dasher and Blitzen. The local church is named, yes, you guessed it, St Nicholas. It's a relatively new church. Oh, and get this. Apparently, the old church building was originally a sleigh factory.