Clark County REMC - December 2022 Indiana Connection

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PAGES 18-21 DECEMBER 2022 IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT LETTER helpers Santa’s Clark County REMC’s Employee at right place at right time.

from the editor

A gingerbread Christmas

I’m obsessed with gingerbread houses.

I love how, by judiciously purposing gumdrops, candy canes, M&Ms, and royal icing as architectural and landscaping details, a cookie can become so much more than baked dough (albeit delicious baked dough!). Of course, I’m totally intimidated by creating my own gingerbread house (maybe I’ll finally try my hand at cookie architecture next year!), but what I can master is creating a whole family of gingerbread people suitable to inhabit the gingerbread home of my imagination.

Gingerbread cookies are some of my favorite holiday treats. I love the sweet and spicy taste of ginger, allspice, cloves, cinnamon and molasses. I love the satisfying crispy crunch. And decorating them with icing, raisins, sprinkles and candy is not only fun, it’s actually therapeutic for me. I’m reminded of how I’d create clothes out of wrapping paper for paper dolls or when I’d draw faces on paper chain people cutouts when I was a child. Each cookie becomes a unique individual at decorating time thanks to flourishes of “buttons” and icing bows, curls and cuffs of different colors, and a never-the-same expression.

I invite you to block some time this holiday season to make a batch of gingerbread people, perhaps with your favorite little ones. Every part of the experience is enjoyable, from mixing the ingredients together, to rolling out the dough and cutting out the shapes, to the scent of the freshly baked cookies just out of the oven, to decorating each cookie, one by one … and finally, to the well-earned snack after the kitchen is cleaned up.

To help you “get your gingerbread on,” I’m offering an appropriately themed gift to a lucky reader: a gingerbread man platter, apron, spatula and cookie cutter. See below to find out how you could win this prize

I urge you to make sweet memories at home with those you love this Christmas!

Three ways to contact us: To send us recipes, photos, event listings, letters and entries for gift drawings, please use the forms on our website; email; or send to Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606.

VOLUME 72 • NUMBER 6 ISSN 0745-4651 • USPS 262-340

Published monthly by Indiana Electric Cooperatives

Indiana Connection is for and about members of Indiana’s locally-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. It helps consumers use electricity safely and efficiently; understand energy issues; connect with their co-op; and celebrate life in Indiana. Over 304,000 residents and businesses receive the magazine as part of their electric co-op membership. Member’s cost per issue is approximately 32 cents, plus postage.

CONTACT US: 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600 Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606 317-487-2220


Steve McMichael Vice President Dr. Richard Leeper Secretary/Treasurer Tom VanParis Interim CEO

EDITORIAL STAFF: Emily Schilling Editor

Richard George Biever Senior Editor

Holly Huffman Communication Support Specialist

Lauren Carman Communication Manager

Kiley Lipps Graphic Designer

Amber Knight Creative Manager

Mandy Barth Vice President of Communication

ADVERTISING: American MainStreet Publications Cheryl Solomon, local ad representative; 512-441-5200; Crosshair Media 502-216-8537; Paid advertisements are not endorsements by any electric cooperative or this publication.

UNSOLICITED MATERIAL: Indiana Connection does not use unsolicited freelance manuscripts or photographs and assumes no responsibility for the safe keeping or return of unsolicited material.

SUBSCRIPTIONS: $12 for individuals not subscribing through participating REMCs/RECs.

CHANGE OF ADDRESS: If you receive Indiana Connection through your electric co-op membership, report address changes to your local co-op.

POSTAGE: Periodicals postage paid at Indianapolis, Indiana, and at additional mailing offices.

POSTMASTER: Send change of address to: Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606. Include key number.

No portion of Indiana Connection may be reproduced without permission of the editor.

On the menu: March issue: Indiana’s famous recipes, deadline Jan. 1. April: Healthy toast topping ideas, deadline Feb. 1. If we publish your recipe on our food pages, we’ll send you a $10 gift card. EMILY SCHILLING Editor Giveaway: Three giveaways this month: Emily’s gingerbread themed gifts, a St. Elmo’s prize pack featuring sauces and a $150 gift card, and a copy of the book “Letters to Santa.” Visit or send your contact information to the address below. The deadline to enter is Dec. 30.

On the cover

cover story food 14 contents 4 DECEMBER 2022 DECEMBER 03 FROM THE EDITOR 05 CO-OP NEWS Energy news and information from your electric cooperative. 10 ENERGY How to keep your December energy bill in check. 11 INSIGHTS 12 COUNTY OF THE MONTH Steuben County. 14 FOOD Loco for cocoa. 16 INDIANA EATS Host your own version of the St.
Eating Contest. 18 COVER STORY Santa’s letter helpers. 22 SAFETY Keeping warm with heating pads, electric blankets and space heaters. 23 CAREERS Jason Clemmons embraces co-op values. 24 HOOSIER ENERGY/ WABASH VALLEY NEWS 25 DIY HOME Make it a ‘green’ season with eco-friendly giftwrapping ideas. (NOT IN ALL EDITIONS.) 26 TRAVEL Hop aboard the tinsel lines. (NOT IN ALL EDITIONS.)
Elmo’s Shrimp Cocktail
25 energy diy FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA Indiana Connection 10
Pat Koch is all smiles as she prepares the reply to a child who’d written Santa. Koch, who’s been ghostwriting for Santa since 1943, is the chief elf of the Santa’s Elves, a nonprofit workshop of volunteers who answer the avalanche of mail Santa receives at Santa Claus, Indiana.

CONTACT US Office: 812-246-3316 / 800-462-6988 Outages: 866-480-REMC Fax: 812-246-3947

To pay your bill by phone or inquire about your account: 877-484-4042



OFFICE HOURS 7 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday

STREET ADDRESS 7810 State Road 60 Sellersburg, IN 47172

MAILING ADDRESS P.O. Box 411, Sellersburg, IN 47172


Paul Graf, President John Biesel, Vice President Jeff Myers, Secretary/Treasurer Joe Basham Steve Dieterlen Mark Huber Amberley Kendall


Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 3 at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m.

Hard-working and community-minded

December is finally here! I first stepped into the offices at Clark County REMC just under one year ago, and I am still humbled by how fortunate

I am to work with some of the hardest-working, communityminded people I’ve ever known.

From 4-H festivals to high school career fairs to community service projects, it’s been a joy to serve together in so many ways. But community work isn’t all we do. (We are an electric company, after all!) I want to assure you that our employees haven’t been idle. We are constantly training and working to better ourselves, so that we can give you the best possible service.

We have linemen who have completed 8,000 hours of training and earned degrees while working on the job. We have engineers

and IT staff who have earned leadership and cybersecurity certifications. Eleven employees became certified Emergency Medical Responders and are now able to jump in during an emergency to keep their families and coworkers safe. Two of our board members completed training certifications, and two other board members reached Gold-level certification, equipping them with the knowledge and understanding to always lead our cooperative in the right direction.

Check out pages 6-8 and 14A for a full list of these accomplishments. I am so proud of this team. I believe that the members of Clark County REMC deserve the best we can give them, and this is the team to deliver that to you.

On behalf of myself, the REMC Board of Directors, and all of our employees, I wish you all a happy and safe holiday season.

Like us on Facebook: ClarkCountyREMC

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holiday magic

Time: 6-8 p.m.

When: Thursday, Dec. 15

Where: Clark County REMC grounds

• FREE kid’s craft and goody bag for each child.

• Bring a camera to take pictures of Santa and his reindeer from your car.

• This is a drive-thru style event. Please remain in your vehicle as you drive through Santa's wonderland.

co-op news

Warm Hands And Warm Hearts

Clark County REMC HEATS Program Participants Graduate

The tradition continues this year with the winter warmth tree. Please consider making a donation of new gloves, hats, scarves and socks to warm the hands and hearts of families who can't afford to buy the basics for this winter.

In 2019, Hoosier Energy's Training and Safety Department developed a new apprenticeship program: HEATS Member Service Representative Apprenticeship.

This 2½ year program provided participants with the skills necessary to deliver effective member support and communication. It also provided training in customer service, industry knowledge, and field terminology, and has received accreditation from the Department of Labor.

Congratulations to Amber Bowman, Vicki Gilstrap, Heather Meagher, Staci Montgomery and Brian Omerso for completing this program.

Clark County REMC's Nathan Hall graduated in October from the Hoosier Energy Apprentice Training and Safety (HEATS) program.

Hall received his diploma marking the completion of 8,000 hours of on-thejob training coupled with 500 hours of classroom instruction.

Requiring multiple tests and classes, this academic commitment earned each student an associate degree from Ivy Tech Community College.

Congratulations, Nathan.

3rd Year Apprentice, Wyatt Binkley, attended the 2022 International Lineman's Rodeo and placed 10th out of 57 participants in the Apprentice REA Division.

Way to go, Wyatt! What a great accomplishment!

Jeremy Miller, manager of finance and administration, was invited to co-facilitate a Work Orders class at IEC in Indianapolis. This class was designed for electric cooperative employees in the state of Indiana who have any part of dealing with work orders. The course brought out the importance of operations and accounting in the work order process. Participants in this course left with a plan to improve or maintain their work order process. Jeremy’s knowledge regarding this subject matter along with his 18 years of experience at Clark County REMC made him the perfect fit to co-facilitate this course.

6 DECEMBER 2022 co-op news
Left to right: Amber Bowman, Staci Montgomery, Nathan Hall, Heather Meagher, Vicki Gilstrap, and Brian Omerso.
We are accepting donations through Dec. 16 during business hours.
Together we can make a difference!


Nash Summers completed the Hoosier Energy Executive Leadership Development (HEELD) program in November. The outcome of the program is to build a stronger cooperative system where leaders work together to enhance the ability of their cooperative to accomplish challenging tasks and work together throughout the system to advance the business and create value for members.

Alex Olson received his CompTIA Security+ certification. The CompTIA Security+ certification is a vendor-neutral certification widely recognized by the IT industry. It establishes the core knowledge required of any cybersecurity role. Security+ incorporates best practices in hands-on troubleshooting and ensures candidates have practical security problemsolving skills.

Joe McNew completed the Bell Leadership workshop through Hoosier Energy. This training program helps build leadership skills and creates highperforming teams and organizations.

Congratulations Nash, Alex and Joe!


Clark County REMC's office will be closed Dec. 23, Dec. 26 and Jan 2.

Exchange six canned or non-perishable food items for a free energy kit valued at $30.

The canned food items will be distributed to area food pantries. The need is great!

This exchange is for Clark County REMC members only through the end of the year. One exchange per member while supplies last. Energy kits are limited to the first 1,000 members who donate food items.

Calendars, Farmers’ Almanacs and Festival Guides are now available for pickup during business hours.

co-op news
YOU GIVE, we back!give

Join a dynamic organization by serving on the Clark County REMC board of directors. The deadline for petitions is Jan. 16, 2023, at 4 p.m.

The board of directors for Clark County REMC is the legal body which both the membership and the government hold accountable for the actions of the organization. The men and women elected to serve are dedicated people who have the interests of all members of the organization at heart.

In 2023, REMC members will elect board members representing Districts 3, 6 and 7. District 3 represents Monroe and Wood townships in Clark County and Polk Township in Washington County. District 6 represents Silver Creek Township in Clark County. District 7 represents Utica

and Jeffersonville Townships in Clark County.

Any eligible person who wishes to run for the board of directors (including an incumbent director) must be nominated by petition. The petition may only be signed by members of Clark County REMC.

If you want to be part of a company with commitment to community and the people who live here, consider serving on the REMC board of directors.

This is a great way to serve in an organization that cares about its neighbors and works to make a positive contribution in so many ways.

All candidate forms and petitions will be processed electronically.

Visit directors for details and to apply.

Petitions for election and other board information are available online at

Completed petitions and biographical information must be submitted no later than Jan. 16, 2023, at 4 p.m.





8 DECEMBER 2022 co-op news
Myers, District 7, completed his BLC (Board Leadership Certificate). Kendall, District 1, completed her CCD (Credentialed Cooperative Certificate). Paul Graf, District 6, obtained his Director Gold Credential. Dieterlen, District 2, obtained his Director Gold Credential.

How to keep your December energy bill in check

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… until you get December’s utility bill. What happened?

Consider this: More family members are home from work or school, colder temperatures require more heat, there’s lots of cooking for work and family get-togethers and last, but not least, holiday decorations are shining brightly.

When you consider the rising utility prices this year, your bills can send your holiday bonus up the chimney faster than Kris Kringle. However, there are some ways to be more efficient and keep the costs of holiday cheer to a minimum.

Light the way

Start by getting rid of those old incandescent bulbs and replacing them with LED lights. While LEDs are more expensive to buy, they’ll improve your energy efficiency by 70 to 85%. Plus, LED lights are brighter and will last nearly 50 times longer than traditional lights. You can even connect 24 strings of LED lights to a single wall socket without overloading it, and the lights stay cool, reducing the fire hazard.

While you’re at it, put those lights on a timer. You won’t have to remember to turn them on or off and the timer will allow them to be on during the hours when people can look at them instead of just putting on a light show for neighborhood wildlife.

Decorating differently

While light shows grab all the attention, there are other ways to celebrate the holidays. Reflective ornaments, garland and tinsel can create sparkles of their own. Use sleigh bells and wreaths to get everyone in the spirit, and employ

the kids to create unique decorations — trees, candy canes, reindeer and more.

If things aren’t quite bright enough, some strategically and safely placed candles can also help do the trick. By the way, inflatable yard decorations are among the holiday’s largest energy consumers.

Cooking smarter

There are plenty of ways to cook up savings in the kitchen during the holidays.

First, cook multiple dishes at the same time when possible.

Second, the oven isn’t the only device to use. A microwave is much more energy efficient, as are slow cookers and pressure cookers. If you do have to use the oven, open the door as few times as possible to prevent heat loss.

The same is true with the refrigerator, as limiting the number of times the door is opened and closed will save money.

When all is said and done, remember to completely fill up the dishwasher to maximize the load and, if possible, allow the dishes to air dry rather than using the dishwasher’s heat setting.

energy 10 DECEMBER 2022

Time to get creative! CHRISTMAS BREAK?

With Christmas break coming up, this is the perfect time for students to start working on their entries for the next Cooperative Calendar of Student Art contest.

The deadline for students in grades kindergarten through high school senior to submit artwork to illustrate the 2024 student art calendar is March 24, 2023. First place winners will each receive $200. Their artworks will illustrate the calendar’s cover and the 12 months of the year. One “artist of the year” will be

chosen and will earn an additional $100 prize. Judges will also select honorable mention winners whose artwork will also appear in the calendar. Those student artists will receive $75 each.

The contest is open to Indiana public, private and home-schooled students. They must be in grades kindergarten through 12th grade during the 2022-23 school year. A complete set of rules and required entry forms are available at


Price includes shipping and Indiana sales tax. Make check payable to “Indiana Electric Cooperatives.” Send a note and check to Indiana Connection Calendar; 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600; Indianapolis, IN 46240.


Our Marketplace offers maximum exposure for your business or organization at a minimal cost.

Please contact Cheryl Solomon, 847-749-4875 or , for other small business advertising opportunities in Indiana Connection.

WE REPAIR LEAKY LAKES GUARANTEED We know how to find all water leaks underground. Call us! 812-987-4119
insights ORDER YOUR 2023 CALENDAR today!

Steuben County County Facts

Creating the northeast corner of Indiana, Steuben County is a border county touching two other states, Michigan and Ohio. The county’s natural beauty of lakes and forests truly makes it a transition county as Indiana gives way to the more naturally majestic Great Lakes landscapes of Michigan. And, to underscore its outdoorsy wintry feel, it’s the closest Indiana county to Canada, about 100 miles eastby-northeast as the crow flies.

During the last Ice Age, unimaginably massive glaciers up to a mile high slowly flowed out of northern Canada and covered the northern two-thirds of Indiana. When they melted, they left their marks: most notably the Great Lakes. But they also left smaller landscape features, especially all across Northeastern Indiana.

The earth-moving and gouging glaciers gave Steuben County more natural lakes — called “kettle lakes” — than any other county in the state. The many lakes make the area unique. They harbor wildlife and provide recreational opportunities. It’s a perfect place for a state park.

Surrounded by two kettle lakes, Lake James and Snow Lake, is Pokagon State Park. Named for Leopold and Simon Pokagon, father and son leaders of the Potawatomi tribe of Native Americans who lived in the area in the 1800s, Pokagon is one of the state’s first parks. It was dedicated in 1925.

The park and the Potawatomi Inn (built in 1927) are year-round destinations. The inn, with its up-north fishing-lodge theme, is one of the Midwest’s most popular resorts and conference centers. The park offers a winter wonderland of activities: crosscountry ski rental, sledding, ice fishing and a twin-track toboggan run.

While natural beauty, wildlife, and outdoor activities abound, it’s the manmade toboggan track that garners the most attention around Pokagon in winter. The toboggan run began its 84th season of chills and thrills the day after Thanksgiving and will run through February. The run attracts some 90,000 visitors during its annual three-month season.

The old-fashioned J-shaped toboggans reach speeds of 3540 mph on the quarter-mile, refrigerated run. The twin tracks begin atop a 30-foot tower built on a steep hill known as a “kame” — a pile of rock and debris deposited by the melting glaciers. It is one of only two such refrigerated facilities in the Midwest.

This attraction that iced the park’s reputation as a winter destination


NAMED FOR: Baron Frederick von Steuben, a Prussian military officer who played a leading role in the American Revolutionary War by shaping the Continental Army into a disciplined and professional fighting force.



began simply as an amusement for the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps who built many of Pokagon’s other lasting shelters and features during the Great Depression of the 1930s and early 1940s.

Steuben County’s natural beauty, manmade rustic cabins and inn, and old-fashioned wintry fun offer a hearty “Up North” feel for visitors without venturing to northern Michigan or Canada or even leaving Indiana.

For toboggan hours and information, and to take a virtual ride, visit

county feature 12 DECEMBER 2022
Pokagon, Indiana’s “Up North” state park, gets more snow than most of Indiana, but it’s not necessary for the toboggan track. It’s refrigerated. PHOTO PROVIDED BY JAIME WALKER


In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla extract; beat until fluffy. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder; add to creamed mixture. Stir in nuts if desired. Spread in a greased jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 F for 15-18 minutes. Sprinkle marshmallows evenly over cake and return to oven for twothree minutes. Using a wet knife, spread the melted marshmallows evenly over the cake. Cool. For the topping, combine chocolate chips, butter, and peanut butter in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is melted and well blended. Remove from heat; stir in cereal. Spread on top of cake. Chill. Cut into bars to serve. Makes three dozen bars.

food 14 DECEMBER 2022 ADD SOME CHOCOLATE-Y SWEETNESS TO THE HOLIDAYS Loco for cocoa FOOD PREPARED BY EMILY SCHILLING, RACHEL MCFADDEN AND AMBER KNIGHT PHOTOS BY KILEY LIPPS ¾ cup butter or margarine 1½ cups sugar 3 eggs 1 t. vanilla extract 11⁄3 cups all-purpose flour ½ t. baking powder ½ t. salt 3 T. cocoa powder ½ cup chopped nuts, optional 4 cups miniature marshmallows 11⁄3 cups (8 oz.) chocolate chips 3 T. butter or margarine 1 cup peanut butter 2 cups crispy rice cereal
Becky Metz, Greensburg, Indiana


Clark County REMC, in a cooperative effort with the Safety & Training Team at Hoosier Energy, offered employees of REMC the chance to become an Emergency Responder.

An Emergency Responder is a person with specialized training who is among the first to arrive and

co-op news

provide assistance at the scene of an emergency.

The program was intensive and included 52 hours of training and testing. The certified responders will continue training to keep their state certification. We are proud of these individuals!

co-op news
Jonathan Gladstein Kevin Porter Cody Christianson Jacob Pierce Dakota Evans Shelbi Ball Thera Desmond Alex Olson Brian Tanner Dave Barton
Josh Bohlsen

Right place, right time, concern for community

Inspired by the cooperative principle of “concern for community,” Clark County REMC staking engineer Jared Massengale’s quick thinking made a difference in the life of an Otisco-area woman.

Driving back to Clark County REMC on Oct. 17 after working in the field, Jared Massengale, staking engineer for the Sellersburg-based electric cooperative, encountered an elderly woman walking on Highway 3 in Otisco. His actions that followed likely prevented the woman from getting seriously lost or injured. “I had just worked at a job pretty far north,” said Massengale. “I saw someone up in the road ahead of me and they were veering out toward the middle of the lane. It jumped out at me something wasn't right. She was an elderly lady out walking alone in the road.”

Massengale inferred that the woman, dressed in flannel pajama pants and a jacket, whom he estimated to be 80 years old, was confused about her whereabouts. Massengale rolled down his window and asked her, “Are you all right? Do you need help? Is everything OK?"

From her replies, Massengale determined she was probably lost, so he leaned into one of the seven cooperative principles – concern

for community – and extended assistance. “Once we started talking and she gave me the indication she wasn't 100% sure where she was, there was no other choice than for me to act,” he said. “I needed to get her out of there and get her home as fast as I could — and do what I could to get her there safely.”

To escort the woman out of harm’s way as quickly as possible, Massengale suggested she get into his REMC truck so he could take her off the road and to safety. After she got in his vehicle, Massengale pulled over to a safe spot and dialed 911 to alert authorities to the situation. Two deputies arrived on the scene shortly after.

The deputies tried to figure out the woman’s identity and where she lived. “She didn't know where she was, and she had no identification on her,” Massengale said.

Eventually, the deputies were able to deduce where the woman lived, and it turned out she was nearly a mile from her home. The fact that she had been walking for so long really struck

Massengale, and made him think, “Man, I was probably not the first person to drive by her.”

The woman made it safely to her home that day thanks to Massengale’s intervention. It would have undoubtedly been easier to keep driving when he spotted her, but Massengale decided to follow his heart, take a chance, and stop.

“We are quite proud of Jared and his decision to stop and help,” said Jason Clemmons, Clark County REMC CEO. “His actions truly embody what the cooperative principles represent, and he demonstrated how the electric cooperatives’ concern for community sets us apart.”

Looking back on the situation, Massengale is glad he made the decision to stop.

“I was not in my comfort zone and going through any of this was all new to me. I just followed what I thought was the best route to take and hoped for the best,” Massengale said, adding, “But, I would do it again — it made a difference.”

co-op news


Camp Kilowatt

JUNE 7-10

Go to camp to apply.

Deadline is March 1.

Indiana Youth Tour to washington, d.c.

JUNE 11-18

Go to youth-tour to apply.

Deadline is March 1.

Cooperative Calendar of Student Art

Visit for-youth/art-contest/ for details.

Deadline is March 24.

Clark County REMC Scholarships


Deadline is March 3.

14D DECEMBER 2022 co-op news
Sutherland 25 YEARS OF SERVICE
Edwards 25 YEARS OF SERVICE Kevin Moore 20 YEARS OF SERVICE Derek Coombs 15 YEARS OF SERVICE Amanda Koerber 10 YEARS OF SERVICE Amy Tewell 5 YEARS OF SERVICE Steve Dieterlen 15 YEARS OF SERVICE John Biesel 5 YEARS OF SERVICE Congratulations! The following eight employees are celebrating milestone anniversaries at REMC. We thank them for their commitment to providing you with the best service possible. TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
youth programs scholarships for more details and how to apply.


Linda Hubbard, Corydon, Indiana

1¼ cups sifted powdered sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1½ cups egg whites (from 11 or 12 large eggs)

1½ t. cream of tartar

1 t. vanilla extract

¼ t. salt

1 cup sugar

Sift together powdered sugar, flour and unsweetened cocoa. Repeat sifting for a total of three times. In a large mixer bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla extract and salt

on medium speed of electric mixer until egg whites form soft peaks (tips curl over). Gradually add sugar, about 2 T. at a time, beating at high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Sift about ¼ of the flour mixture over the beaten egg whites. Fold in lightly by hand. Repeat with remaining flour mixture, a quarter at a time. Turn batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake in a 350 F oven for about 1 hour or until cake tests done when inserted with a toothpick. Invert cake in pan. Cool thoroughly. Loosen cake and remove from the pan. Makes 12 servings.


Amelia Patrie, West Lafayette, Indiana

1 T. unsweetened cocoa

2 t. dark brown sugar

¼ t. cinnamon

1⁄8 t. nutmeg

1 T. boiling water

1 cup 1% milk

½ t. vanilla extract

1⁄8 t. almond extract

In a large mug, stir together cocoa, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the boiling water and stir until smooth. In a small saucepan, heat the milk for three minutes over low heat or until hot. Stir the milk into the cocoa mixture until well combined.

Stir in vanilla and almond extracts and serve. Makes one serving.

food DECEMBER 2022 15

Indiana eats


The origin of the shrimp cocktail is a little fishy, but Indianapolis’ St. Elmo Steak House has been serving their own delicious version since 1902. According to writer Nick Kindelsperger, another one of the earliest recorded mentions of the dish was an advertisement in the Nov. 30, 1914, issue of The Chicago Daily Tribune. Along with turkey cutlets and beef goulash, the ad mentioned a “fresh shrimp cocktail.”

As most folks know it today, a shrimp cocktail is an array of shelled, cooked shrimp perched in a glass, served with a ketchup-based cocktail sauce and perhaps a lemon wedge or two. Depending on the amount of

horseradish in the aforementioned sauce, the taste can range from mild to sinus-clearing.

If you have friends who enjoy seafood and a good challenge, why not invite them over for a shrimp cocktail eating contest? You can make the sauce as spicy as you dare and offer a trophy or certificate to the winner. The Indiana Connection team held its own in-house championship, and after one minute of fast and furious eating Indiana Electric Cooperatives President Randy Kleaving emerged victorious, having eaten 11 shrimp.

Visit to download your own printable award

At-home contest tips

Be sure to buy plenty of shrimp. We bought 20 large shrimp per person, but you can adjust the amount depending on the time limit you set for your competition. (Our contest lasted one minute but we suggest hosting a competition lasting at least two minutes.) Cut the tails off beforehand. Pour the

cocktail sauce in individual large baking pans (one for each competitor) and place shrimp in the sauce before the competition starts.

Milk helps calm the heat of the spicy cocktail sauce. Have glasses or small bottles of milk available for the competitors to drink after (or perhaps

certificate — and make your party “shrimply” the best!

The 9th annual “World Famous St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail Eating Championship” will be Saturday, Dec. 3, in downtown Indianapolis. It will feature the historic St. Elmo Steak House’s signature shrimp cocktail — which includes an ultra-spicy, horseradish-laden sauce. Competitive Competitive eater Joey Chestnut, who lives in Westfield, Indiana, is undefeated since the contest’s inception; last year he consumed 17 pounds, 1.6 ounces of shrimp in eight minutes to win. Chestnut also set a world record in 2018 by eating 18 pounds, 9.6 ounces of seafood.

during) the competition. Make sure each contestant has a bottle of water nearby as well.

To determine the winner, count the number of shrimp that are left in the baking pan. The person with the fewest number of shrimp left is the winner.

16 DECEMBER 2022
Left: Jon Elkins, Indiana Electric Cooperatives’ vice president of safety, training and compliance, and Indiana Connection Editor Emily Schilling gorge themselves with cocktail sauce-covered shrimp during an in-house shrimp eating contest. Below: Indiana Electric Cooperatives President Randy Kleaving was able to beat the heat and win the contest.
a pack of St.
cocktail sauces and a $150 gift certificate LEARN MORE ON PAGE 3 ENTER TO WIN
Elmo’s shrimp

LETTER helpers Santa’s


Five minutes into one of their first sessions of the season answering Santa’s mail, Santa’s Elves were stumped by a child’s undecipherable scrawl.

“Boy, I'm having trouble with this name,” said Joyce Robinson, a volunteer elf of 20 years. She handed the letter to Pat Koch, the chief elf who’s been answering Santa’s mail for almost 80 years. “Tell me what you think.”

Looking up from her stack, Koch glanced at it and said, “You’re having trouble with this name?” Then, without a hitch she read off the first name — the one printed legibly.

“No, I mean the last name,” Robinson said.

Koch hemmed on the closer, second look, “B … I … hmmmm ....”

‘Hmmmm,’ yeah,” Robinson laughed. “It's B-I-something. An ‘A’? ‘T’? … Oh, man.”

And, so it goes for Santa’ Elves, a group of letter-writing volunteers stationed in the back room at the original post office building in Santa Claus, Indiana. Each year, these elves gather there to answer tens of thousands of letters written to Santa that arrive from around the U.S. and the world.

If Santa were there, there’d be no problem. He’d check his list twice and discover the child’s name. But he’s in high demand this time of year. He entrusts his elves — his ghostwriters, his “Christmas spiritwriters” — to carry on in his stead.

Reading the wants and hopes of children earnestly expressed in “Dear Santa” letters, and then penning a short personal reply is a wondrous and weighty task for the volunteers. “As we work, we cry and we laugh,” Koch said.

The elves take the responsibility seriously. So, they spend several minutes trying to figure out one child’s name to ensure they spell it correctly on the return letter. Or they Google a partial address or a missing city in hopes of discovering a full address to ensure the reply’s delivery. Every child’s letter is important; every letter to Santa deserves a greeting in return.

“To me, it's a ministry. It's a work of love. It’s the joy it brings in a world that isn't always joyful,” Koch noted. “It's a miracle that children still believe in Santa Claus

with all their ability to access so much information. And that belief in things we cannot see and things that are almost miraculous is so precious.”

Elves at work

While Koch, now 91, remains the energetic chief elf helping corral, train and encourage the Santa’s Elves volunteers, Kathleen Crews, director of the Museum & Village, organizes the massive letter operation.

This is her first Noël at Santa Claus. Previously, she and her husband owned and operated a buffalo park to the west of Santa Claus, and before that she was lead ranger at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, Spencer County’s other claim to fame.

She’s been amazed at the volume of mail, which arrives year-round, and from where so much of it comes: Taiwan, China, Europe. “When I first started, all these letters from Russia were coming across my desk. That was back when the invasion into Ukraine had just started. I was thinking, ‘Russia, grrrrr,’” she said, feigning some hostility before softening her tone. “But the kids were writing letters to Santa. It’s about the kids.”

Most of the foreign letters are written in English, she said. When they’re not, the elves turn to assistance from area universities to help translate.

18 DECEMBER 2022
“… that belief in things we cannot see and things that are almost miraculous is so precious.”

Though volunteers from around the community work the 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily shifts through Dec. 21 (the last day letters are mailed to meet a Christmas deadline), Koch said there’s a core group of about a half dozen regular volunteers. Scheduling can be tricky; they never know if a day’s mail will bring 200 letters — or 2,000.

The elves gather around two tables in the old post office’s back room. They can choose from four preprinted letters for the correspondence. Then, they write a short personal note that references the child’s original letter. They never promise what Santa can do or tangible things he can bring. But they assure Santa’s love.

As letters are opened, some are read to the group for a chuckle or for a sigh. Funny letters are the best. The elves recall the time a child mailed the family’s house key for Santa to use because they didn’t have a chimney. Another without a chimney wondered if Santa could use the dryer vent.

“We do have some that are so sad you almost break down,” said Ed Rinehart. He's the “chief mail elf” because he helps take letters to and from the post office. He’s also one of the few males active with the core group.

“Sometimes a child will say ‘I don’t want to live with Dad,’ or ‘My mom is dying of cancer,’” Koch said. “So, you have to be very careful. Most of the time I write something like, ‘Santa loves you and believes in you,’ just to let them know somebody cares about them.”

Sometimes a child will be worried about a loved one in the military overseas. “Santa will dip down to see how he‘s doing when over that base,“ Robinson will write. “Just something to say that Santa will definitely look in on him.”

“They’re almost like a prayer on a paper,” said Crews. “If it‘s something that seems impossible, sometimes, they ask Santa for it. And that’s heart tugging. And some just want to wish Santa a happy day, or that they’re thankful for Santa.”

Santa: The post office and ma n

Post offices have always been town centers in rural America. But no town has probably had its future so inextricably

linked to and so mapped out by the postal service as Santa Claus, Indiana.

The Spencer County hamlet was originally known as Santa Fee. When it was large enough to apply for a post office in 1856, the Post Office Department in Washington, D.C., rejected the application because Indiana already had a similar town — Santa Fe in Miami County. Another name had to be selected.

Various tales have grown over the decades of how Santa Fee became Santa Claus. One oft-repeated one is that the town held a meeting to decide its new name on the snowy Christmas Eve of 1856. A gust of wind blew open the

Santa goes through stacks of mail. In 1930, Jim Yellig began to assist the Santa Claus postmaster responding to letters. In 1946, he became Santa Claus Land’s resident Claus, a title he had until he died in 1984.

STORY CONTINUED ON PAGE 20 Children young and old stop in the Post Office at the Santa Claus Museum & Village to write a letter to Santa on old school desks. Volunteers with Santa’s Elves, Myran McCoy, left, and Deann Siegel read the letters to Santa and work on responses.
DECEMBER 2022 19


doors and folks heard sleigh bells in the distance … “It must be Santa Claus!”

The more likely story of its moniker is mundane. The postmaster in Fulda, about five miles due east, was handling the application. It's believed, perhaps on a whim, he wrote “Santa Claus” above the rejected “Santa Fee” on the official application. Koch likes to point out that maybe it wasn’t all coincidence … his name was Nicholaus, … Nicholaus Fisher.

For more than 50 years after, Santa Claus, the town, hardly was noticed.

In the meantime, Santa Claus, the legend embodying Christmas spirit, grew. An article in the Smithsonian Magazine in 2015 noted that artist Thomas Nast’s depictions of Santa in Harper’s Weekly during and after the Civil War personalized and popularized Santa. And as letter writing became more common, the practice of writing “Letters to Santa” did too, especially after Nast’s 1871 depiction of Santa poring over letters from boys and girls. With no place to deliver them, the post office dumped the letters in the “Dead Letter Office.”

By 1913, bowing to requests from newspapers and organizations upset that the letters children had written went unanswered, the postmaster general allowed local post offices to release Santa letters to charity groups that wanted to answer the letters as Santa. In Santa Claus the town, Postmaster James Martin took it upon himself to begin responding to the letters that arrived.

At about the same time, according to a town history Koch wrote, post offices around the country began forwarding letters addressed simply “To Santa” to the Santa Claus post office. In 1929 and 1930, the Santa Claus post office was featured nationwide in two “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” newspaper panels. By late 1930, an avalanche of mail, 100,000 pieces in all, poured in for Santa from all over.

That’s when Jim Yellig, Koch’s father, a native of nearby Mariah Hill and restaurant owner, offered to help Martin with Santa’s mail.

Because Yellig received letters post-

marked from Santa Claus while in the Navy during World War I, he was asked to portray Santa by his ship's crew who threw a party for underprivileged children when they docked in Brooklyn. Yellig loved the experience and seeing the smiles Santa put on children’s faces. He vowed and prayed if he survived the war, he would forever portray Santa.

Returning home after the war, Yellig kept that promise. He enlisted the help of the American Legion and other local veterans, church groups, and other organizations to help the Santa Claus postmaster — and was instrumental in perpetuating the Santa’s Elves mission in 1930. In 1943, 12-year-old Pat also joined the Elves.

Santa Claus comes to town

After World War II, Louis Koch, a retired industrialist from Evansville, was disappointed that a town named after Santa had little to offer visiting children. He then developed an amusement park he called Santa Claus Land. The world’s first “theme park” opened in 1946 with a few rides, a toy shop and displays, a restaurant, and, of course, Santa.

Koch tapped none other than Yellig to become the park’s resident Santa, a position Yellig kept for 38 years until his death in 1984. In the meantime, Louis Koch’s son, Bill, came home from military service and took over the park’s operation.

In 1960, Bill Koch was reacquainted with Yellig’s daughter Pat, a nurse who had moved home to support her mom and dad after he suffered a heart attack. The old family friends soon fell in love and


This special picture postmark is different each year, chosen from entries submitted by art students at nearby Heritage Hills High School. The top design becomes the featured picture postmark to cancel postage stamps on holiday mail out of the Santa Claus, Indiana, Post Office. The design is revealed in early November.

It is the only post office in the world with Santa’s name. The post office began offering the postmark Dec. 1. It will be available on working days until Dec. 24.

There is no charge for postmarking. However, don’t forget to apply regular postage to your holiday mail before getting the postmark.

To get the postmark on your mail, you can go to the small- town post office to hand cancel your own mail, but you can also mail your Christmas cards to the post office. Just put your cards in a package (sturdy envelope or box), with postage stamps already on each piece of mail, and mail to: Postmaster, P.O. Box 9998, Santa Claus, IN 47579-9998. Be sure to include a note requesting the Santa Claus postmark.

To ensure a good postmark imprint, allow a space in the stamp area of about 2” by 4” (this goes on top of the regular postage/ stamp); and do not enclose large or bulky items inside your mail.

married. Under their oversight, Santa Claus Land matured into Holiday World. Today, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is internationally recognized for its wooden roller coasters, water park, and amenities. It’s still operated by Bill and Pat Koch’s children and grandchildren.

Several years after Bill Koch died in 2001, Pat founded the Santa Claus Museum & Village to begin preserving the history of the town and the legacies of her late husband and her late father. At that time, she also merged Santa’s Elves with the museum. The town’s historic first post office, moved to the museum grounds in 2012, became the official headquarters for the letter-writing organization.

Keeping Santa’s spirit alive

In the fall, students from nearby Heritage Hills High School used their Senior Volunteer Day to help at the Museum & Village. They planned to paint wheelchair ramps at the post office and the 1880 church, also moved to the grounds in 2012. Instead, rain brought the six young women inside where Koch introduced them to writing for Santa’s Elves.

Two of the seniors, Aminy Miles and Ashanty Reyes who returned during fall break to help paint, reflected on their ghostwriting experience.

“Oh, it was amazing,” noted Miles, who said not so long ago she had been on the receiving end of Santa’s greetings. “I absolutely loved it. You get all the little notes like, ‘I've been trying to be good,’ and all that.”

Reyes said it was nice to share the love Santa represents with others. “Santa is just something you believe in in your childhood that gives you hope — that there’s someone out there doing good. It’s that inner Christmas spirit. One letter that really got to me was a girl in middle school. She was afraid of growing up and going to high school,” Reyes continued. “It’ll be OK,” she wrote her. “Everything will work out fine. Just think positive.”

“When we do letters, it helps keep alive that childlike belief we should all have,“ Koch said. “I believe in Santa Claus because Santa is a spirit. Santa Claus will live forever — if we keep him alive.”

Richard G. Biever is senior editor of Indiana Connection.

Mail Santa letters to:

Santa Claus P.O. Box 1 Santa Claus, IN 47579

Please mail your letters by midDecember to ensure a response before Christmas.

The letters from Santa Claus are made possible through Santa's Elves, Inc., a non-profit organization. The elves happily accept donations to offset the cost of postage. Donations may be sent to Santa's Elves, Inc., at the above address. For more information about Santa's Elves and the Santa Claus Museum and Village, please visit

Enter to win:

Indiana Connection is giving away a copy of “Letters to Santa,” a beautifully bound book of letters dating back to 1930.


DECEMBER 2022 23
DECEMBER 2022 21


Electric space heaters and blankets are great ways to stay toasty warm when the temperature drops. But don’t forget about safety before you plug in these chill-chasers.

During these winter months, when space heaters and electric blankets come out of hibernation, home fires increase.

“Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “More than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year. These fires result in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries and millions in property damage.”

Remember: An electric space heater is a temporary option for supplemental heat. Many homeowners may use this option to heat specific rooms while they sleep, but this is unsafe. When you leave a room or go to sleep, it is important to turn off your electric space heater. If you’re leaving it unattended, it could overheat or fall. It is also important to always plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet — never use an extension cord, which can cause overheating.

Electric blankets and heating pads are also popular during the cold months. Never fold them and avoid using them while sleeping. Inspect them for dark, charred or frayed spots, and check to see if the electric cord is cracked or frayed. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully before using them in your home.

While there is no risk for carbon monoxide poisoning with an electric space heater, it holds many other safety hazards if not used properly.

To be safe, install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas. If you already have them, be sure to test them once a month.

Don’t let your guard down if you keep yourself or your home warm with an electric space heater, electric blanket or heating pad. By following these tips, you and your family have a better chance of avoiding significant fire and electric shock hazards.


• DO read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully before using any space heater or electric blanket.

• DON’T leave a space heater or electric heating blanket unattended. Turn it off when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep.

• DO inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use.

• DON’T use the heater if plugs are frayed, worn or damaged.

• DO keep heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.

• DON’T use electric blankets while sleeping or as a mattress pad.

• DO plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire.

• DON’T fold an electric blanket when it’s in use. Folded or tucked blankets could overheat and cause a fire.

22 DECEMBER 2022

cooperative career

Professional progression:


After college, Jason Clemmons worked as a high school guidance counselor in his hometown of Rushville. He also facilitated a young mothers’ group and worked with at-risk youth through the Mayor’s Youth Council at the Boys and Girls Club. He had a full plate.

These were 80-hour weeks, he said, giving him little time to spend with his wife and their young family. But it was important work – work to make the lives of others better. He was also a community volunteer for various boards and organizations.

Today, Clemmons is starting his second year as the CEO of Clark County REMC in Sellersburg. While leading an electric utility may seem a long way from his passionate community roots, for Clemmons it was part of a natural progression of growth and an opportunity to further practice the electric cooperative values he embraced when he took his first cooperative job in 2004.

“As I look back, each and every thing I did was not just about the job. It was about impacting people’s lives, making their life just a little bit better every day. Becoming a CEO gave me the ability to really work with the employees and work with the departments and just really try to affect their lives in any way

2004 Hired Manager of Member Services

RushShelby Energy

we could.”

Clemmons’ first cooperative job was manager of member services at his local electric cooperative, RushShelby Energy in Manilla, Indiana. After seven years working for the school system, he loved what he was doing and wasn’t interested in applying. But Rushville’s then-mayor encouraged him to apply. He knew the electric cooperative was a great place to work and would provide job stability for Clemmons, who was still working year-to-year on a grant.

Clemmons did apply, and he got the job. It was life altering, providing job security and more typical work hours. But, in many ways, he found that the co-op values of commitment to the community and cooperation allowed him to continue his passion for community service.

At the cooperative, he continued his close ties to community organizations. He continued working with young people through the statewide electric cooperative network that included youth programs. Plus, he gained new experiences and leadership skills through educational opportunities the cooperative provided.

2015 Promoted

Vice President of Member Services RushShelby Energy

Chief Executive Officer

Clark County REMC

“What kept me there was just the cooperative spirit – the cooperative way of life. That’s something I just put a huge amount of value to, and each day I try to live those values,” he said.

As the years passed, Clemmons took on new responsibilities and roles. He rose to vice president of marketing/ member services in 2015. When the CEO at Clark County REMC retired at the end of 2020, Clemmons was awarded the position.

“For me, the cooperative way of life is just part of everyday life,” he said. “Electric co-ops are here to make people’s lives better. We’re here to be a part of our communities and make our communities better.”


Visit to learn about available careers or tell us about yourself.


Chief Executive Officer

Clark County REMC

profile DECEMBER 2022 23

Hoosier Energy news


The Hoosier Energy Apprenticeship, Training and Safety (HEATS) program held its first in-person graduation program since 2019 this fall at French Lick Resort.

The program, which started in 1975 as a way to ensure linemen had proper jobrelated safety training, expanded over the years to include other co-op employees.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 graduating classes never received formal recognition of their accomplishments. That made the 2022 graduation program a threeyear celebration of 103 total graduates across four training disciplines representing not only Hoosier Energy but 17 of its 18 member cooperatives.

Among those disciplines receiving apprenticeship certificates: linemen, metering technicians and substation technicians. This year’s graduation also included

the first group to complete the member services representative (MSR) program, a two-and-a-halfyear course that began in 2019 and culminated in 2021.

The first metering technician class graduated in 1995 and the first substation technician class graduated in 2015. The 2020, 2021 and 2022 graduating classes now bring the total number of graduates to 781 since the HEATS program first began. The program continues to grow with no sign of slowing down.

24 DECEMBER 2022
Hoosier Energy Apprenticeship, Training and Safety graduates gathered with friends, family and instructional staff for the 2022 graduation program at French Lick Resort.

Make it a ‘green’ season with eco-friendly gift-wrapping ideas

THAT’S A wrap

With a bit of creativity and preplanning, those holiday gifts you bought for everyone can be wrapped both beautifully AND in an environmentally conscious way. Here are 10 eco-friendly tips to try when it’s time to wrap things up!

1Embrace one of the “buzziest” trends in gift wrapping: furoshiki, a Japanese method that uses fabric to sustainably make any item presentworthy. Napkins, tea towels or scarves work well for wrapping smaller gifts. If you have a larger present to wrap, head to the fabric store to pick up the size of fabric needed in a holiday print. Or, you can recycle an old sheet by cutting it into appropriately sized furoshiki cloth. The cloth can be reused over and over again to wrap presents in the years to come.

year. These decorations can be added to the compost pile after the gift is unwrapped. 4

Elevate your gifts with snazzy package tie-ons like thrift shop costume jewelry, Christmas tree ornaments or jingle bells.

items. The jars can be decorated with washi tape and the aforementioned package tie-ons.


Turn an empty potato chip bag inside out and wipe the greasy residue clean with a towel. Voila! You now have a silver gift bag that no one would guess once held munchies.


Got an old T-shirt or flannel shirt headed for the rag pile? Instead, cut the shirt into ribbon-width strips to use to tie around your package. Or, tie an old tie into a package bow. 3


Another way to decorate your package: use natural elements like evergreen or thyme sprigs, cinnamon sticks, dried flowers or dried citrus peel. Tie them on your packages with twine or recycled ribbon from last

Old maps, colorful pages torn from old magazines, and yesterday’s newspaper can all be used as gift wrapping. Or, use some of your kids’ artwork as gift wrap. (This is a perfect idea when wrapping gifts for the grandparents!)


Colorful washi tape not only gives packages an artistic flair; the tape is biodegradable and thus environmentally friendly. 7

Glass mason jars are a cute, trendy and recyclable container for small gifts and, of course, food


Turn old postcards and the fronts of old Christmas cards into gift tags. You can also cut festive shapes out of corrugated cardboard shipping boxes and use those as gift tags. Try attaching the gift tags with clothespins.


A pillowcase can be used as a gift bag that can actually be utilized for its original purpose once the holidays are over. Even novice sewers can make pillowcases from festive seasonal fabric in just minutes. They’d look just as good on a bed as they would stuffed with goodies under the Christmas tree.

do-it-yourself DECEMBER 2022 25


Train events deliver Christmas magic

Something magical happens when trains couple with Christmas. Be it a model electric train circling the base of a Christmas tree firing up a child’s imagination or a genuine old-fashioned steam or diesel engine chugging through a winter’s night to real holiday delights, trains add to the nostalgia and memories of the holidays like no other form of mass transportation. And for the masses of Hoosiers looking for some railroad whimsy, there come opportunities both large and small.

Experience the tradition of Jingle Rails Indianapolis

Hoosiers can travel vicariously through the West aboard Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure which continues its annual run through Jan. 16, 2023, at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in downtown Indianapolis.

Jingle Rails is a G-scale model train wonderland containing nine working model trains that wind through a stunning miniature landscape, creatively built out of all-natural materials and decorated with holiday lighting. The exhibit features miniature versions of local treasures of Indianapolis, including the Eiteljorg Museum, Monument Circle and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The trains then head through the national parks of the American West, passing legendary sites including grand railway lodges, Northwest Coast Native villages, and wonders both natural and human-made.

Over nearly 1,200 feet of track, the trains whistle and chug past Old Faithful geyser which actually erupts, Mount Rushmore, the Hoover Dam, and much more.

Now in its 13th year, Jingle Rails is included with regular museum admission. Members are free. Children ages 4 and under have free admission. For non-member advance sale tickets, visit

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride is a re-creation of the classic children’s story on board a real train. During the interactive 70-minute long experience, passengers are served hot chocolate and a treat by dancing chefs, enjoy a reading of the book by Chris Van Allsburg, and receive the first gift of Christmas (a silver sleigh bell) after Santa boards the train to greet families. Elves lead passengers in caroling and fun holiday activities on the return trip to French Lick.

Each coach is dressed in festive holiday décor and features color-changing lighting synched with the activities on board. Families are encouraged to wear their pajamas for the ride!

Unfortunately for this year, as every year, all tickets are sold out by December. But now is the time to be thinking of the 2023 ride. Public sale for the 2023 season will begin Jan. 10, 2023, at 9 a.m. First class and dome class tickets sell out quickly. So, make plans and purchase your tickets in January. The rest of the seats generally are sold out by November when the Express starts running.

The 2023 schedule begins Nov. 3 and continues until Dec. 23. For more details and to order your 2023 advance tickets, visit

travel 26 DECEMBER 2022
THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride French Lick