Holiday World’s Pat Koch

You regulars will know that our family visits Holiday World most years, and we are fans of this family-friendly, clean park. A few weeks ago, I asked on the Facebook page for blog post ideas, and Pat Koch came up.

Who, you may ask, is Pat Koch? And why the Holiday World connection?

These days, Pat Koch *is* Holiday World. Her son, Dan, owns the park, but Pat is a constant presence. I think I’ve seen her on each recent visit we’ve taken. She is always walking around, interacting with guests and smiling. It’s amazing, really, when you consider that she is 79 years old.

Other than recognizing Pat as the energetic lady about the park, I didn’t know a lot about her. But a little research, as well as a helpful email from Paula Werne, Holiday World’s director of public relations, turned up some interesting tidbits about this energetic lady:

  • She has a master’s degree in pastoral ministry and was a nun for 10 years
  • Her father was Santa Claus in the park when it was still Santa Claus Land
  • She has been involved at Holiday World since marrying its owner and developer, the late Bill Koch
  • She loves to quilt and sing, and learned to play violin as an adult
  • She’s a 10-year colon cancer survivor
  • She founded the Santa Claus Museum in town
  • She is the force behind the park’s obsession with cleanliness and friendliness (as a visitor, I have to say: it’s working!)
  • She heads up the Santa’s Elves organization, which ensures that every child’s letter arriving to Santa receives a personal reply

santa claus land 1970sHere I am with my sister at Santa Claus Land in 1970 … maybe Pat’s dad is Santa?

My belief in God is not so much wrapped around the institution, though I love it. Unless I live in the moment and see God in everybody every day, all the rest is really just stuff. God and respecting my God is what’s important.  — Pat Koch

10 thoughts on “Holiday World’s Pat Koch

  1. Holiday World – What a wonderful place! If you’ve never been and are within reasonable driving distance – please go. You won’t regret it. Many aspects about it sort of restores my faith in mankind.

  2. Knowing she was a nun totally explains the cleanliness of the park, I’m sure. When she is no longer on the scene, it will gradually go downhill, which is sad. It’s hard to beat the work ethic of the southwestern Indiana nuns.

  3. PS I am not sure it’s been mentioned that the Kochs are parents to five children.
    From what I’ve been told, I believe Holiday World will continue to be run by the Koch family for decades to come. They have a strong family with a good Southern Indiana work ethic. That goes a mighty long way!

  4. Pat is truly an amazing lady. I had the honor of working at the park for two seasons when I was younger, and I learned a lot from her, and her son Will (who was President of the park for many years and has sadly passed away) about the joy of a job well done. They had a way of making you feel more like family than just an employee.

    The work ethic and love for fellow humans she and Bill instilled into their children, and they into their children will ensure the park will remain at its standard for generations to come. The entire family is dedicated not only to the park, but to their community as a whole.

  5. I doubt for one second when Miss Pat is gone the park will go downhill…her sons and family are as she, wonderful ppl being brought up by a wonderful mom that has instilled her vaules in the. Rock on Miss Pat your fellow Hooisers love you to pieces.

  6. Something to think about … we don’t keep the park clean because Mrs. Koch “makes us.” We do it — together, as a team — because we know it’s important to us and to our park guests. It’s simply the right thing to do. That’s part of our park culture and will not change. It’s sort of like a recipe passed down from generation to generation. The “Koch recipe” … get my pun? :0)

  7. I worked for Holiday World for about 4 seasons when I was younger and I was blessed to have them as my first employer. They gave me great skills like picking up trash when you walk by  and staying busy even if it’s cleaning outside your station! I don’t know if they still do it but they always had reward merits that the employees earned by doing a good job. Then later we could *bid* on awesome prizes at this HUGE employee party! Holiday World, to most, is a great park to visit but to me it *showed* me that no matter what position you hold in a company, you are not above picking up trash on the ground. If you ever need to see people who are just truly good people, visit them! >Shout out to Brandon Berg, the best boss ever!

  8. I truly hope that those who say the park will remain a clean, family-friendly place to visit are right.

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