Raymond Joseph “Jim” Yellig has received the Sagamore of the Wabash Award, Indiana’s highest civilian honor.
Yellig began portraying Santa Claus in 1914, while serving in the United States Navy. After World War I, he returned to his hometown of Mariah Hill, Indiana, and served as the Santa Claus Land (now Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari) Santa for nearly forty years.
The award will highlight Yellig’s commitiment to answering letters sent to Santa Claus and his devotion to spreading Christmas joy along with his legacy with in the Santa Claus community.
The Sagamore of the Wabash Award is a personal tribute usually given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to the state or to the governor. Among these who have received Sagamores are astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, artists, musicians, politicians, and citizens who have contributed greatly to our Hoosier heritage.
His legacy will be honored during a ceremony at the Santa Claus Museum & Village on Saturday, February 25, at 11:00 am CT. The Hoosier Santas and honored guests will bestow the award to Yellig’s daughter, Pat Koch.
Koch is the founder of the Santa Claus Museum & Village and a 2013 recipient of the Sagamore of the Wabash Award. The ceremony is free and open to the public. A wreath-laying at Yellig’s grave in Mariah Hill, Indiana, will follow the ceremony.