Collection of letters for Santa returning to parade

Friday, November 29, 2002

The seventh float in Sunday's Christmas Parade of Lights in Cape Girardeau will have a special mailbox on top. Letters put in that mailbox will go directly to Santa Claus at the North Pole.

Walking alongside the float will be mail carriers in Santa hats who have one mission Sunday night: To stuff their mail bags with letters to Santa Claus from children along the route.

The parade, sponsored by the Downtown Merchant's Association, will begin at dusk at Capaha Park and travel east on Broadway to Main Street, ending at the parking lot opposite Hutson's Fine Furniture.

Using stamps

The Cape Girardeau post office receives many letters addressed to Santa Claus at this time of year, says customer service supervisor Cindy Davis. "Usually they're just addressed to Santa or to Santa, No. 1, North Pole," she says. "Usually they all have stamps."

If there's a return address, the Cape Girardeau post office sends back a postal coloring book and a cover letter assuring the letter was forwarded to the North Pole.

Letters to Santa without return addresses are kept at the post office in case someone calls up wondering whether their letter to Santa Claus was delivered.

The mail carriers' return to the parade after an absence of a few years is in part an attempt to boost morale. "We have had a rough year," Davis says, referring both to the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and concerns about terrorists using the mail to ship anthrax spores.

Post offices everywhere went on high alert.

"We didn't know if we were in the line of fire," Davis says. "... A lot of people were talking with us about what to do if we found something. It was just not knowing."

Kent Zickfield, chairman of the parade, says postal employees will be looking for children with letters in their hands Sunday, so it's time for every boy and girl to get out their paper and pencil.

"They need to get their letters written," he says.

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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