Summit County towns find ways for kids to interact with Santa this year amid pandemic restrictions
Many annual holiday events were canceled this year, but Summit County’s towns found ways to keep the festive spirit alive for children with calls and letters from Santa.
Mailboxes for kids to drop off their letters to Santa were placed throughout the county, with one in front of Next Page Books & Nosh in Frisco labeled “Direct to the North Pole,” one in Dillon at the town’s animated Christmas tree in Marina Park, and one in Silverthorne outside the Silverthorne Pavilion.
Silverthorne is taking the tradition of writing to Santa a step further by sending responses to kids who dropped off their letters by Dec. 14.
“We’ve had that mailbox out at First Friday before, but we just have it as a decoration, not really for the purpose of telling people to write letters, and that we’ll write back to kids,” Silverthorne’s Arts and Culture Manager and Business Liaison Sydney Schwab said. “So it was the first year, and it kind of came about because of the pandemic and Santa visits being a little bit different this year. We wanted to be able to give the kids an opportunity to actually write to Santa and hear back from him since they couldn’t talk to him.”
Schwab said the town’s recreation and culture team is responding to 165 letters the town received from kids across the county. The team created a postcard with a picture of Santa, who appeared in a oversize snow globe at Silverthorne’s First Friday event Dec. 4. Staff is reading the submitted letters and then using the postcard to respond with a message related to what each child wrote in their letter.
The town provided a letter template for kids to fill out at the First Friday, asking for a mailing address and a few other questions, such as the child’s favorite color, animal and what they want for Christmas. That information helped staff send personalized letters back to each child.
Silverthorne usually hosts a holiday bazaar, but the event was canceled this year. Schwab said the Santa letter program was created as a way for kids to enjoy the holidays a bit more.
“With everything with COVID right now, it being such a hard year, we wanted to try to bring some joy to the kids in our community and still give them a way to feel some holiday spirit and connect with Santa,” Schwab said.
The Frisco mailbox in front of Next Page was set up by the store as a place for kids to drop off letters, bookseller Kendra Paul said. Paul shared that the mailbox has not yet received many letters, and that while the store wasn’t planning on responding to letters because not many people put return addresses on them, store staff can respond if people do leave return addresses.
Though Frisco doesn’t have an official town mailbox for letters to Santa, the town continued its Santa’s Calling tradition of setting up calls from Santa to children’s homes. On Dec. 1, Santa called 92 households, reaching over 120 kids, Frisco Communications Director Vanessa Agee wrote in an email. She added that there were 30 more phone calls this year than in past years.
“It seems that Santa’s Calling is made for this moment, and that is likely why Frisco staff also assisted six other communities who reached out to Frisco, from as far away as Nebraska, in order to set up their own Santa’s Calling programs for 2020,” Agee wrote.
Santa’s Calling is a town tradition that occurs every year during Wassail Days, a festival that continued this year with Frisco shops and eateries handing out cups of wassail, a hot, mulled cider.
Dillon’s Santa mailbox will be up through Christmas at Marina Park. Breckenridge doesn’t have a Santa letter program.
“I just wanted to thank you for the call. My kids are still talking about it, and it was very magical for them. This was a big highlight for them in a year that has been challenging with all the shutdowns and schools moving to online learning. This was fantastic!”
“Oh my goodness … Santa called and (my daughter) was beside herself! BTW the only thing (my daughter) wants from Santa is a rainbow cheetah with spots … a big rainbow cheetah with spots … good luck Santa!”
“… these calls have been a tradition in our family for many years.“
“Our two daughters were so excited with Santa’s call. We appreciate what you all did to let us have such a special moment in these extraordinary days.”
Comments provided by town of Frisco
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