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Sex Offender Hysteria Ends Santa Letter Tradition

November 19, 2009

washingtonpost.com : Sex Offender Hysteria Ends Santa Letter Tradition.

The U.S. Postal Service is dropping a 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 a child’s letter, but the Postal Service viewed the episode as a big enough scare to tighten rules in such programs nationwide. (in other words, the man never even responded to a single letter, yet they are canceling the program)

People in North Pole are 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.

North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson agreed caution is necessary to protect children.

The Postal Service began restricting its policies in such programs in 2006, including requiring volunteers to show identification. But the Maryland incident involving the sex offender prompted more changes, even forcing the agency to briefly suspend the Operation Santa program last year in New York and Chicago.

This hysteria is beyond ridiculous

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