The historic theme park, Santa’s Land USA in Putney, Vermont just got a new lease on life in its 60th year thanks to work of David Haversat, of Oxford, Connecticut, a magician and auction house co-owner. Haversat had grown up visiting the southern Vermont attraction, dreaming of owning it someday. This year marks the park’s 60th anniversary. It was founded in 1957 by Jack Poppele, who was vacationing in Vermont when he fell in love with the parcel of Route 5. He operated the park for 13 years before selling it to the Brewer family, which ran if for 32 years, before selling it. Haversat kept his eye on the sales of the property, hoping to be able to buy it. He finally got his wish and dream in 2017 after it had been closed for three years and fairly run down following a sad chapter in its history. Considering its state, the park could easily have been wiped away by another purchaser hoping to redevelop the large property. But thanks to Haversat’s true love for Santa’s Land, it has been saved.
In May of 2017, Haversat told the Brattleboro Reformer that he had finally been able to close on the purchase of the park and started making trips between his Connecticut home and Putney with a car stocked full of cleaning supplies and repair materials.
“Santa’s Land remained a popular destination for both locals and vacationers for nearly six decades,” wrote Haversat in documents presented to the Development Review Board. “Generations of families have visited since the first day the park opened in 1957. … It’s my goal to being a new, positive chapter in the history of this property.”
Haversat had more than just the condition of the aging, neglected structures to deal with when he took ownership. He discovered extensive vandalism as well. Undaunted, he forged ahead. After working tirelessly with help from his family members and local contractors for months, the park finally opened to the public again in November 2017 – with a ribbon cutting on December 17, 2017. Haversat continues to work on the restoration of the many original attractions and quirky buildings portraying fairy book places and characters from the world of the North Pole. Located in a grove of evergreens on 42 acres, the park features a train ride, holiday dioramas with animatronic figures, painted cottages, a kiddie slide, toddler car rides and a historic 32-horse carousel –brought in from the famous Astroland in Coney Island. Visitors driving in on Route 5 are greeted with a bright red sign flanked by wooden candy canes and oversized alphabet blocks.
To many locals and visitors who have loved the place over the decades, the re-opening was a thrill and a delight to children seeing it for the first time. Haversat says he hopes to run it the rest of his life. His care and love for this Vermont treasure has rescued it from deterioration and scandal and has preserved it for today’s and tomorrow’s children.