By: Mark and Mike Mangham

Years ago, it wasn’t Christmas until Santa arrived in his sleigh at the Sears on Southern Avenue. Twin Blends Northwest History Hunters wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! What better way to say it than to feature some rare inside photos from 1967 that we have uncovered at the NWLA of the famous Santa sleigh at Sears on Southern Avenue in Shreveport, Louisiana, back in the day? How many of you remember this ride? How many of you know the history of Santa’s Rocket Ship?

Santa’s Rocket Ship at Sears in Shreveport was a beloved Christmas tradition that has been enjoyed by generations of families in Louisiana. Santa Claus would arrive on his rocket ship to greet children and take them on a magical ride. The rocket ship was a fixture at the Sears store for many years, bringing joy and wonder to children during the holiday season. Although the rocket ship is no longer at the Sears store (the Sears store has been empty for years), it still holds a special place in the hearts of those who remember it fondly.

Every holiday season, children and families eagerly awaited their turn to embark on this thrilling adventure through space with Santa at the helm. As the countdown to blastoff began, the atmosphere was electric. The ride operator counted down the seconds until the rocket ship would take off, and the riders braced themselves for the exhilarating journey ahead. The countdown created a sense of anticipation and excitement as everyone waited for the moment when the rocket ship would lift off the ground and soar into the sky. The riders were propelled forward, and

the ride’s speed and motion simulated the sensation of blasting off into the cosmos. The journey through space was an unforgettable experience, with riders feeling as though they were truly traveling through the stars. The ride’s success and popularity were a testament to its unique designand ability to transport riders to a world beyond their wildest dreams.

Santa’s Rocket Ship was built and owned by Lloyd Laster of Tyler, TX. Laster started with one Rocket Ship built on a bus chassis in the 1950s. By the time he retired in 1974, Laster had a fleet of five vehicles that included three Santa’s Rockets, a Rocket Sleigh, and a Space Sleigh. The vehicles traveled all over the southern and southwest parts of the country, taking Holiday Shoppers on joy rides while making appearances at shopping centers and malls. The Sears Department Store on Southern Avenue in Shreveport was one of Santa’s stops.

Laster sold his business, complete withall five Christmas vehicles, to Bill Griffith, who lived in Wisconsin. Griffith operated the vehicles throughout the Midwest for several more years. Maintenance costs and the fuel for these huge old vehicles became too expensive so they were parked. Bill Siros’ Auto Thrill Show purchased two of the vehicles. One of the other Christmas vehicles ended up in a Southern Wisconsin junkyard. The Jacobs were visiting Wisconsinwhen they came across the Rocket ship. They had already established MuklukLand along the Alaska Highway as aroadside attraction, populated with all sorts of ephemera, including old mining equipment and a Studebaker M29 Weasel.

They bought one of the Rocket Ships, and it sat at Mukluk Land unused until a few years ago. With a fresh coat of paint and a new leather interior, Santa’s Rocket Ship is now a feature attraction of Tok’s annual Fourth of July parade.The story of Santa’s Rocket Ship is a heartwarming tale that celebrates the joy and magic of the holiday season and reminds us of the importance of spreading joy and kindness to those around us. There is a power of imagination and the spirit of adventure in this story that serves as a timeless reminder of the true meaning of the holiday season and the importance of cherishing the moments we share with our loved ones.