By day, I'm a communications manager at the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community. In my spare time, I blog for the Indiana Insider blog, telling people about fun things to do in the state of Indiana.
Yesterday, I was at Holiday World and Splashin' Safari (formerly known as Santa Claus Land), taking a tour with the park's Director of Public Relations Paula Werne. My professional and off-duty worlds collided when she told me that Santa Claus Land started as a retirement project for Louis J. Koch, a retired industrialist from Evansville, Indiana.
With the management of the family business safely in the hands of his two sons, Koch (pronounced "cook") used his retirement years to develop Santa Claus Land as a children's park, which opened in 1946. Werne said that it just bothered Koch that Indiana had a town called Santa Claus, but didn't have any Santa Claus activities to offer people who visited.
This picture, taken in March 1955 and provided courtesy of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, shows Louis J. Koch (far right) with then-actor Ronald Reagan visiting with the Big Guy at Santa Claus Land.
Today the park, now known as Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, is a destination for more than 1 million visitors each year.
What Koch did was embrace his "third age." This month's edition of Aging in Indiana takes a look at the third age as part of what I'm calling the 4th "P" in the 4 Ps of aging -- preparation. Beyond simply financial planning, the third age is the time in a person's life between the ages of 45 and 80 when he or she begins to consider and pursue what is next in terms where time and passions are invested.
For some people, the third age brings with it an impetus to travel. For others, it might mean spending more time with family or exploring new hobbies. Many will launch an encore career, perhaps one that offers more flexibility and is based more on passions than on paychecks.
Each year the Purpose Prize is given to people over the age of 60 who are making extraordinary contributions in their encore careers, that is people who have embraced their own third age.
The Purpose Prize and the phrase "third age" did not exist in 1946 when Louis Koch embarked on his project. But what he did in his retirement created a legacy that still continues today.