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Santa returns to Catsup Bottle after a long hiatus December 14, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Preservation.
Tags: , , ,

A decorative Santa Claus figure on the lower structure of the historic World’s Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville, Ill., has returned after a more than a 10-year hiatus, according to a news release from the landmark’s preservation group.

From the news release:

The 12-foot-tall, 400-pound Santa figure is wrapped in lights and colorful garland and appears to be climbing the landmark water tower to deliver lots of holiday good cheer.

“Santa took an extended Caribbean vacation,” said Mike Gassmann, president, CEO and Big Tomato of the non-profit World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, Inc. “We’re excited to have him back.”

It has been over 10 years since Santa Claus last climbed the Catsup Bottle. “People are loving it! Our social media sites are lit up like a Christmas tree,” Gassmann said. “Pun totally intended.”

Schoolchildren in 2000 raised money to install the Santa figure. However, the preservation group’s limited funds kept the tradition going for only a couple of years. So Santa was put into storage.

Scott Hassall, business manager of IBEW Local 309 in Collinsville, enlisted J.F. Electric in Edwardsville, Ill., to return Santa on the catsup bottle again.

Here’s what the Santa figure looks like in the daytime, along with a detailed shot:

The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle sits near the site of a former Brooks Catsup factory. The 100,000-gallon water tower, painted to resemble a Brooks ketchup bottle, was built in 1949.

Brooks moved its operations to Indiana years later, but the big bottle remained. A local preservation group restored it in 1995, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle sits about two miles south of the nearest alignment of Route 66 at Beltline Road in Collinsville. However, it remains a favorite side trip for Route 66 travelers.

(Photos courtesy of Mike Gassmann)


1. Sal Paradise - December 14, 2013

I thought Santa went down the chimney, or catsup bottle. How did he end up outside climbing up?

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