Not his first rodeo
It’s no surprise most people know Big Tex as the State Fair of Texas’ host-with-the-most – after all, he’s had the job for 65 years – but before coming to Big D in 1952, Tex played the roll of another well-known character in a small Texas town due east of Corsicana.
In the free-wheeling years after World War II, merchants in Kerens, Texas, had a problem. Residents of the tiny town drove to nearby Corsicana (or even made the 75 mile journey to Dallas) for their annual Christmas shopping sprees. Looking for a gimmick that might encourage people to spend money at local stores, the wise folks at the Kerens Chamber of Commerce built what they claimed was the world’s largest Santa Claus, a 49-ft. tall figure made of iron-pipe drill casing, papier mache, cloth (outfit), and seven-foot lengths of unravelled rope (for the beard, of course).
Unsurprisingly, the unique promotion was a success during the ’49 holiday season, but just as fads and viral videos fade today, the novelty of Kerens’ Santa faded the following year and community support waned. Ah, but as the saying goes, “one small town’s giant Santa is another city’s big Texan.”