Painting the Park: Holiday World bids farewell to retiring Sign Shop Manager Rick Emmons


By Don Steen ~ Staff Writer •

Holiday World’s Sign Shop Manager Rick Emmons is laying down his brushes and heading into retirement after 52 years, leaving behind a legacy that is impossible to miss. He has left his mark on the park in many ways, creating most of the iconic murals and logos that give the park its unique character. Emmons also made sure the Santa statue at the entrance was always at its Sunday best to greet visitors. His murals, paintings, and other creations will continue to add an air of wonder and imagination for visitors for a long time to come.

Throughout his career, Emmons has created thousands of signs, logos, and renderings by hand, and revolutionized the sign shop’s operations with digitized art development. Despite embracing modern techniques, Emmons’ talent for large-format, hand-painted murals remains unparalleled.

“We can never thank Rick enough for sharing his talent with us for more than half a century,” says Leah Koch-Blumhardt, Fourth-Generation Owner of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. “He has quite literally shaped our parks through his murals and signs, and we’re so much better for it. He’s been here through three of our four generations of Koch ownership, and I speak for my entire family when I say that I’m so grateful we’ve had the joy of working with him. He is a wonderful painter, but an even more wonderful person.”

Emmons began working seasonally when the park was still Santa Claus Land, in 1972. He began working full-time in 1975. Of the 78 years the park has been open, Rick has worked exactly two-thirds of them.

Holiday World isn’t the only place Emmons’ work can be found. He has painted murals for many buildings and churches in the area throughout the years.

“We wish Rick all the best in retirement,” adds Koch-Blumhardt. “It’s truly the end of an era. Please join us in congratulating Rick on an outstanding career.”

For his part, Emmons said it was a privilege to be able to put his passion to work on such a large canvas. 

“People talk about what I’ve done,” he said. “They did see it, and I hope they enjoy it, but I feel like I’ve gotten more out of it.”

Emmons thanked the Koch Family and his fellow staff members for the opportunity to play such a big part in making Holiday World’s ever nook and cranny a little more magical for its many guests.

“I’ve always thought I was one of the luckiest people in the world,” he said.

Featured Image: Rick Emmons, longtime Sign Shop Manager and Attraction Artist at Holiday World, poses with a mural he painted in one of the many buildings within the park. Emmons announced his retirement after 52 years of hard work and dedication the the park

(Top Three): An array of signs and murals Emmons created for various attractions in the park. (Bottom): Emmons adding some retouches to the massive Santa Claus statue that greets visitors as they enter the park