The Coca-Cola Santa image has been making appearances in advertisements and on bottles during the Christmas season for generations.
This year the company is capitalizing on holiday nostalgia by looking at the history of the beverage company and the Christmas season at World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.
The museum, at 121 Baker St. NW, has launched a special exhibit detailing the history of the iconic Coca-Cola Santa logo, created by commercial artist Haddon Sundblom from 1931 to 1965.
“Our history of Santa display really gives people a little information around how Coca-Cola has become so linked to the image of Santa that most of us have if we close our eyes and think, ‘What does Santa look like?’” said Jacquie Wansley, marketing manager for World of Coca-Cola.
Wansley said Sundblom drew inspiration for his Santa image from the classic Clement Clarke Moore poem, “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
“Coca-Cola didn’t invent Santa Claus, and we didn’t make him red,” Wansley said. “But through those ads, we really laid the groundwork for what generations would understand to be the image of Santa. This display is a fun way for us to give that background and that concrete assurance that Santa hasn’t changed all these years and there are some things that you can really just rely on.”
Several of Sundblom’s holiday paintings for Coca-Cola advertisements will be on display in the museum’s pop culture gallery.
In addition, World of Coca-Cola is featuring several special holiday items for visitors to view and photograph. Most prominent is the group of large decorated Christmas ornaments in the Pemberton Place green space outside the museum. One ornament was decorated by renowned Georgia artist Steve Penley.
As part of the World of Coca-Cola tour, guests can try the limited edition holiday flavors in the Taste It! beverage lounge. This year’s special flavors are gingerbread Coke, diet gingerbread Coke and chocolate cherry Coke.
Guests can also get photos with the Coca-Cola polar bear and Santa’s sleigh as well as shop the unique collection of artisan gifts handcrafted by female entrepreneurs in the gift shop.
If you are looking for more natural beauty than pop culture art, you can travel less than four miles north to see one of downtown Atlanta’s most unique outdoor winter attractions, the lights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, at 1345 Piedmont Ave. in Atlanta.
Botanical Garden Youth Programs Manager Kathryn Masuda said this year’s light display includes almost a million lights throughout different areas of the garden. Giant orbs in the center of the garden light up in synch with holiday music while other small lights adorn plants inside and outside.
“The garden lights are great. It’s a holiday thing to do that your whole family can enjoy,” Masuda said. “And also you get out of the car. A lot of people drive to see lights in their car, but it’s nice to walk around and explore. I really love that about our light show.”
Masuda recommended guests pick up holographic glasses to wear while viewing the lights to enhance the viewing experience.
S’mores packets will be available for those who want to make a holiday treat while enjoying the lights.
“It’s a fun thing to do with the kids, especially to go in the Radiant Rainforest,” she said. “We have tons of little light dots and we have these frogs called coqui frogs that call along with the lights. It just feels like you’re in a totally different world.”
In addition to the evening light displays, Masuda said families can visit in the day for train rides and holiday family performances. The ride-on train runs on weekends and costs $3 per person.
On Saturday, Dec. 17, St. Nick will visit the garden from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. At 10:30 a.m. Kay Rosenblum will make an appearance as Queen Snowflake to share stories about winter featuring puppets.
For more information, visit www.worldofcoca-cola.com or 404-676-5151 and atlantabg.org or 404-876-5859.