HGTV to film special in Santa Claus

File photo by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus wave at parade-watchers as they pass through the Kringle Place Shopping Center in Santa Claus on Dec. 14, 2019.


SANTA CLAUS — Children will soon be told that Santa Claus is surprising them with goodies this year, but this year, Santa Claus is getting surprised, too.

HGTV will soon be making its way to Spencer County to film “Surprising Santa Claus,” a TV special hosted by Lara Spencer of “Good Morning America” and “Flea Market Flip.” Spencer will have a team of designers, contractors and volunteers to give Santa Claus its biggest Christmas present ever.

“I can say that I’m excited about what’s coming — about their gift to the town,” Melissa Arnold, the executive director of the Spencer County Visitors Bureau, told the Herald by phone Thursday. “I think it will be a great asset that many people will get to enjoy.”

Arnold thinks showcasing the town of Santa Claus on HGTV will spread the holiday cheer with more people than they could reach on their own. She’s hoping more visitors will come to Santa Claus next year as a result of this special.

Things are up in the air with the current COVID-19 pandemic, but Arnold hopes this will generate more tourism as soon as next summer.

Filming for the special is expected to begin next week, but Arnold believes the public ceremony will be filmed the first week of December. Arnold doesn’t know how big of a crowd will come out for the latter, but she said the HGTV crew is following state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols and recommendations. She doesn't know how many people HGTV will want, given the current health climate, but she hopes a lot of people in the community can come out to see it firsthand.

“For the last few weeks or month or two, we’ve been helping with the logistics to help the crew,” she said. “They weren’t able to travel here to scout like they normally are. So, we’ve been their eyes on the ground — supplying video and photos, answering questions, so that they can source materials they need locally.

"And then moving forward, we will help with gathering the public that they need for the particular shots where the community is involved, and really helping out the businesses within the community," Arnold continued. "So that there's an accurate portrayal of the town and what people can experience when they visit."

Two lucky households will also be surprised with home renovations as part of the special. Arnold said a production company, Muse Entertainment Ontario, reached out to the bureau and worked with local realtors, using different methods to get the word out back in March. Hopeful residents applied to HGTV for home renovations through an online portal — There were 100 submissions and two families will be chosen for renovations out of four finalists. Arnold said HGTV knows which two households are being selected, but the families themselves don’t know yet.

The show will premiere at 9 p.m. on Christmas.

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