ANCHORAGE - An Alaska senator says the US Postal Service is resuming a program allowing volunteers to respond to letters sent to Santa Claus in care of the North Pole, Alaska, post office.
Republican US Senator Lisa Murkowski said yesterday that Deputy Postmaster General Pat Donahoe told her in a phone call the agency has reconsidered its decision to not allow volunteers to answer the letters.
The program was suspended over privacy concerns.
Calls to the Postal Service were not immediately returned.
Murkowski says Donahoe said the program would resume in North Pole, but with some new security measures in place to protect the identities of children.
The US postal service said earlier this week that it was dropping the popular national program begun in 1954 in the small Alaska town of North Pole, where volunteers open and respond to thousands of letters addressed to Santa each year. Replies come with North Pole postmarks.
Last year, a postal worker in Maryland recognized an Operation Santa volunteer there as a registered sex offender. The postal worker interceded before the individual could answer any letters, but the Postal Service viewed the episode as a big enough scare to tighten rules in such programs nationwide.
People in North Pole were incensed by the change, likening the Postal Service to the Grinch trying to steal Christmas. The letter program is a revered holiday tradition in North Pole, where light posts are curved and striped like candy canes and streets have names such as Kris Kringle Drive and Santa Claus Lane. Volunteers in the letter program even sign the response letters as Santa’s elves and helpers.