St Nicholas Institute, Santa School Michigan, Santa Claus Training, Santa Claus School

"Where the North American St. Nicholas Revolution Began"







2012 Award Winners

Wally & Irene Bronner, Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland, Frankenmuth, MI
Lifetime Achievement Award Irene & Wally Bronner

Irene and Wally Bronner, Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland, proclaiming to their millions of visitors: "Enjoy CHRISTmas, It's His Birthday; Enjoy Life, It's His way!"

By means of this very exclusive Lifetime Achievement Award, the St. Nicholas Institute is pleased to recognize two wonderful individuals whose personal lives have dramatically personified the Christmas Spirit to an extraordinary degree over the span of many decades; thereby inspiring others to share in the same peace, joy and hope that the angels proclaimed on that very first Christmas.

This year's Lifetime Achievement recipients are Wally & Irene Bronner, co-founders of the world's largest Christmas store, Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland - Over the years, they have also been tirelessly dedicated to a wide variety of civic and charitable organizations, including the Wallace and Irene Bronner Family Charitable Foundation. Awards and recognitions include: Hall of Fame (NOEL Association), First-ever Golden Santa Award (International Toy Fair in Nurnberg, West Germany).

In November of 1992, Wally & Irene dedicated the "Silent Night Chapel" that welcomes the millions of visitors who come to their CHRISTmas Wonderland. The landmark is a faithful replica of the original chapel that today marks the very spot where the beloved carol, Silent Night, was first sung during midnight mass in St. Nicholas Church, Oberndorf, Austria on Christmas Eve. 1818. 

Wally (who entered eternal life April 1, 2008), and his loving wife, Irene, have created a lasting legacy that continues to bless the millions of visitors who pass through the doors of their store with the greeting: "Enjoy CHRISTmas, It's His Birthday; Enjoy Life, It's His way!"

Video Courtesy: Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland, Frankenmuth, MI

2012 Lifetime Achievement Award Acceptance: Irene Bronner

Carol Myers - Phillip L. Wenz - Ted Lindsay - Bill Heaton
(in order of Core Value category)

Spirit of St Nicholas Award 2012


Carol Myers, 2012 Spirit of St. Nicholas Award Winner

Carol Myers, St. Nicholas Center, pictured with "Sinterklaas" (Dutch St. Nicholas).

Nicholas as our Model - Carol Myers, founder/creator, St. Nicholas Center. Myers' comprehensive web-based resource educates people of faith, and the wider public, about St. Nicholas. She's also developed the Center's traveling exhibit and the display and activity kits available for use by churches, schools and organizations. Carol recalls that she first became interested in St. Nicholas when her children were small. She wanted them to understand that "Santa Claus had been a real person - a real person who served God and gave gifts to help others. We hoped that understanding who Santa really was would help them connect faith and giving." Her web site features over 1100 pages, and receives over one million visits annually from 154 countries. A leading St. Nicholas expert, has traveled numerous times to his basilica in Bari, Italy, and to Myra where the beloved saint lived and died. Ms. Myers was featured in the Oprah Winfrey Network's documentary, "Becoming Santa". We are most grateful that she is also a member of the St. Nicholas Institute's distinguished 2012 team of instructors.

2012 Spirit of St. Nicholas Award Acceptance: Carol Myers

Phillip L Wenz, 2012 Spirit of St. Nicholas Award Winner

Openness to the Christmas Spirit - Phillip L. Wenz, founder, Santa Claus Oath Foundation / Santa Claus Productions. A charter member of the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame (Santa Claus, Indiana), Wenz created the Santa Claus Oath, which outlines eight principles that any portrayer of Santa Claus should follow. His Santa Claus Productions client list includes: the City of Chicago, Santa's Village, "Nicholas of Myra" -Movie, "They Wore The Red Suit" (documentary). A veteran of numerous locally and nationally broadcast parades, he has been Santa Claus at the iconic Santa's Village theme park in Dundee, IL for 25 years. He is considered a leading authority on the Santa Claus legend, history, and folklore. He has also authored "Santas Village", Arcadia's Image of America Series. We sincerely thank Phillip Wenz, for sharing his professional expertise as member of the St. Nicholas Institute's 2012 team of extraordinary instructors.

Phillip L. Wenz, Santa Claus Oath Foundation, in a rarely seen double portrait.

2012 Spirit of St. Nicholas Award Acceptance: Phillip L. Wenz

Ted Lindsay, 2012 Spirit of St. Nicholas Award Winner

Ted Lindsay, Ted Lindsay Foundation, employs the same indomitable spirit and tenacity he had as an NHL All Star in his battle against Autism.

Exercising Compassion Ted Lindsay, founder, Ted Lindsay Foundation - A legendary NHL Hall of Fame left-winger for the Detroit Red Wings, Lindsay helped win four Stanley Cups, eight league titles, was voted to the First All Star Team a record eight consecutive times, awarded the Art Ross Trophy, a member of the famed "Production Line" with Gordie Howe and Sid Abel, member Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, honored by Canada Post with his own stamp. In 1991 his #7 was retired. In 2010 he was one of a handful of former players to have an NHL individual achievement trophy, the Ted Lindsay Award, named in his honor.

In 2001, he founded the Ted Lindsay Foundation in order to combat Autism and several neurological disorders that afflict children. Thus far, his foundation has raised more than $2 million. He has also been active in raising funds for: The Michigan Special Olympics, Canadian Special Olympics, Canadian Alzheimer's Association, wheelchair hockey and a host of other worthy charities. Known for combining superlative hockey skills with a gritty style of play during his years as an NHL All Star, we are pleased to honor "Terrible Ted" who now employs that same indomitable spirit and tenacity in his fight against Autism through the Ted Lindsay Foundation.

2012 Spirit of St. Nicholas Award Acceptance: Ted Lindsay

Bill Heaton, 2012 Spirit of St. Nicholas Award Winner Love for Children Bill Heaton, president, Livonia Goodfellows -, gives concrete witness to the organization's motto: "No child without a Christmas." Through his selfless leadership and teamwork, the Livonia Goodfellows have provided hope and Christmas cheer for Livonia's needy children by means of gifts of food, toys, personal care items, shoes and clothing. Heaton has also devoted much of the past 50 years to obtaining proper housing for persons challenged with developmental disabilities. Characteristically, he is heavily involved with foster care programs and work with disabled children. Bill's many service awards attest to his generosity of heart: President's Award (Community Opportunity Center), First Citizen (Livonia, MI), Livonia Human Relations Honor Roll, Heart of Gold Award nominee, Governor's Service Awards (George Romney Lifetime Achievement finalist, 2008), 1835 Livonia City Hall of Fame (2012). When it comes to volunteering, his philosophy is simple, direct and life-affirming: "If there is a vacuum, fill it!" To the countless children who've been touched by Bill's kindness over the years, there's "No child without a Christmas", no matter what day of the year it is.

Bill Heaton, Livonia Goodfellows, lives the goal of "No child without a Christmas" each day of the year.

2012 Spirit of St. Nicholas Award Acceptance: Bill Heaton


V.I.P. Institute Santas Doing the "Santa Jive"

Master of Ceremonies Tom Loewe Introductions

Dave Varga, City of Livonia

Presentation of Papal Blessing Certificate

"Bluegrass Santa", John Johnson IV Performs: "I Carry the Torch"

Certificates Presented to V.I.P. Santa Students / Santa Claus Oath








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