Lincoln Park holiday tradition is open for family business

Photo by Ilene Flanagan

Fantasyland a community favorite
Santa Claus greets two of Lincoln Park’s younger residents at Fantasyland, a holiday tradition held at the Kennedy Recreation Center. Last year an estimated 17,000 visitors dropped by to welcome Mr. and Mrs. Claus to town, and to share gift requests.

Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK — Nearly half a century after it first opened, Lincoln Park’s holiday Fantasyland hasn’t changed much … which seems to be just what people want.

“We have people who were kids when they first came and are now bringing their kids and grandkids,” said Mare Mitchell of the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the event. “We get people from all over Michigan who moved away and come back as part of their holiday tradition.”

The strategy works as last year’s Fantasyland welcomed an estimated 17,000 people, a record for the holiday display that opened for the 2011 season last Sunday. Held at the Kennedy Memorial Building at the Lincoln Park Bandshell, 3240 Ferris (off Fort Street between London and Merrill), Fantasyland offers a host of holiday displays, daily visits by Santa Claus, the Lincoln Park Train Club and more.

Admission is $1, which Mitchell says is keeping with the family-friendly tradition; photos with Santa are $3 (or two for $5).

Little has changed since 1964 when Fantasyland first opened. This year features a few updates to the decorations for a newer, cleaner look, but Mitchell said that many of the exhibits have stood the test of time and remain intact from the debut presentation.

“The Christmas room is decorated with a ‘Night Before Christmas’ theme,” Mitchell said, and there is a display of items from the film“A Christmas Story,” including a Red Ryder BB gun and iconic leg lamp. Other than a hired photographer and cashier, Fantasyland is staffed entirely by volunteers.

Fantasyland is open from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 24, with Christmas Eve hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

More information can be found at the Chamber of Commerce web site,

(James Mitchell can be reached at