Postal Service to resume its Santa letter program

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — North Pole elves have good reason to celebrate again, thanks to a decision by the U.S. Postal Service to resume a Santa Claus letter program that's thrilled children from around the world for decades.

"It's great!" Gabby Gaborik, chief elf among several dozen volunteers, said of the agency's Friday announcement that it's reversing a recent decision to drop a program begun in 1954 in the small Alaska town of North Pole. The program was suspended over privacy concerns.

Gaborik's group, Santa's Mailbag, responds to thousands of letters addressed to "Santa Claus, North Pole" each year. The letters will now be answered by the North Pole elves under tightened privacy rules implemented nationwide by the Postal Service in response to security concerns that arose in a similar program in Maryland last year.

The group also has been assigned a specific address that will allow its volunteers to run their own alternative program, bypassing the stringent new rules and perhaps lessening the Santa letter load for the Postal Service. The restrictions don't affect privately run letter efforts. Children can write to Santa through that program at: 1 Santa Claus Lane, North Pole, AK 99705.

At least 100 volunteers are expected to help in both letter efforts, Gaborik said.

People in North Pole, a town of about 2,100, were outraged by the idea of losing a beloved holiday tradition.