CLAY COUNTY – A personalized letter from Santa Claus may be a child’s most cherished gift. For generations, letters have been addressed to the North Pole from all over the globe. And each year, …
CLAY COUNTY – A personalized letter from Santa Claus may be a child’s most cherished gift. For generations, letters have been addressed to the North Pole from all over the globe. And each year, those letters are dropped off in mailboxes, where they are sent to the fabled North Pole. The tradition continues in Green Cove Springs, Melrose and Keystone Heights.
Until Dec. 20, families can place their letters in Santa’s mailbox by the Spring Park Pool Pavilion or mail them directly to City Hall at City of Green Cove Springs Santa’s Elf 321 Walnut St. Green Cove Springs, 32043. Children also can leave letters to Santa at special mailboxes at Gator Bait Sports Bar and Grill in Melrose and Center Cross Ministries at 350 S. Lawrence Blvd. and Johnny’s Bar-B-Q and Catering at 7411 State Road 21, both in Keystone Heights. In Green Cove Springs, Letters to Santa was started by the city council to encourage children to write a letter and receive a handwritten response from the jolly man himself.
“The program started in 2020 at the start of the pandemic,” said Executive Asst. Kimberly Thomas. “It was such a huge hit and sought after as the season came back around, we just decided to keep it.”
If you place a letter in Santa’s Mailbox, you won’t need to include a postage stamp. However, you must include a name and a return address if you wish to receive a letter from Santa.
“It’s checked every morning by Santa’s elf. We’ve gotten letters from all over Florida,” said Thomas. “I’ve even got one from California. It’s a pretty big program. We usually receive around 400 letters written to Santa each year, and we’re well on our way this year.
“We currently only have one elf helping Santa. It’s sometimes an all-day event, but it’s a lot of fun, and he thoroughly enjoys reading all the letters.”
Santa has also received many original artworks, poems and coloring pages.
“We received several this week that was just full of glitter. You could tell the children spent a long time working on them. But, of course, Mrs. Claus was concerned about how long it would take to get Santa to get all that glitter off his clothes and his desk and everything else,” Thomas said. “Sometimes you just have to work around the glitter.”
Most children, of course, send a Christmas wishlist.
“Christmas is all about toys when you’re a kid. It still is,” Thomas said. “We get a lot of electronic and video games, Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels, LEGO kits.”
Through the program, children also get the opportunity to ask Santa questions. So what seems to be the main concern for local children this Christmas?
“We get questions like, ‘Are Santa Claus’ pajamas red? Does Mrs. Claus snore? Do you really like chocolate chip cookies more than oatmeal cookies? Can you convince mom to help me get a pet snake?’” said Thomas. “We also get, ‘We lost grandma this year,’ and ‘Will Santa come to visit me if I have two houses? I live with mommy and live with daddy,’ or ‘my daddy is in jail. Can you make sure he has a happy Christmas?’”
Letters to Santa is not only about desires and wants. It can be a time to reflect on the year, give thanks, and acknowledge the people who have made a difference in your life. “That,” Thomas said, “is the true spirit of Christmas.”
Letters to Santa offers a window into the mind of a child and a lens through which to understand their dreams, aspirations, and their worries. Although he does not parent any children in his letters, Santa is here to support their needs and wishes, regardless if they are on the naughty or nice list.
“We’ve been able to restore a lot of faith in Santa with a lot of the letters. We want them to believe in Christmas magic for as long as they can. That’s what makes Christmas magical,” Thomas said. “That’s what makes it fun.”