Oak Bay mailbox stuffed with letters to Santa

Chris Hyde-Lay, manager of the parks department for Oak Bay, empties the mailbox at municipal hall to get them on their way to St. Nick himself. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Chris Hyde-Lay, manager of the parks department for Oak Bay, empties the mailbox at municipal hall to get them on their way to St. Nick himself. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Letters mailed in the box on the lawn of Oak Bay municipal hall make their way to the North Pole with the help of the parks department. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Letters mailed in the box on the lawn of Oak Bay municipal hall make their way to the North Pole with the help of the parks department. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Letters mailed in the box on the lawn of Oak Bay municipal hall make their way to the North Pole with the help of the parks department. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Letters mailed in the box on the lawn of Oak Bay municipal hall make their way to the North Pole with the help of the parks department. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

A longstanding holiday tradition on the lawn of municipal hall is far more than decor.

The red mailbox clearly marked Letters to Santa is routinely stuffed, says Chris Hyde-Lay, manager of the parks department tasked with emptying it daily.

They come in plain white envelopes, packets decorated in colourful marker and crayon, and plenty hand-made of construction paper. Since light up in late November, roughly 1,000 have rolled in.

Without divulging addresses, Hyde-Lay says the letters come from all corners of the area, well beyond Oak Bay. Parks staff are excited to be part of the magic that gets letters to Santa at the North Pole ahead Christmas.

“It’s great to see, the kids especially, get excited. This mailbox just brings a lot of Christmas spirit,” Hyde Lay says.

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Oak Bay staff are a cog in the wheel of getting the letters to Santa. They utilize Canada Post, which has helped Santa with his mail for almost 40 years, according to Phil Rogers in media relations. Entrusted with helping Santa with his letters every year, the agency does not discuss specifics of the program, but last year thousands of volunteer elves pitched in 260,000 hours to get 1.5 million letters from around the world to Santa.

“Santa has informed us that all is well at the North Pole and we are ready to help him send his replies back,” Rogers says in a written statement Black Press Media.

“Rest assured that we are working closely with Santa and his elves so that all letters sent to the North Pole will receive a reply. We know Santa can’t wait to see all those colourful letters come his way and our employees love to see them go through our postal system.”

The massive effort is a source of pride for everyone at Canada Post, he added. Since the national program began, Santa’s North Pole post office has responded to more than 30 million letters in about 40 languages, including braille.

Letters can be mailed to: Santa Claus, North Pole, H0H 0H0, Canada.

No postage is necessary for letters sent within Canada each letter should include a return address. Letters mailed by Dec. 9 can expect a response before Christmas.

Visit canadapost-postescanada.ca for details.

christine.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca


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