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PostSubject: US blocks Santa mail   Sat Nov 21, 2009 10:37 am

http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/World/Story/STIStory_457322.html

WASHINGTON - NO MATTER if children are naughty or nice, they won't get a reply from Santa this year, as the US Postal Service has blocked mail to a tiny Alaska town that answered Christmas letters for decades.

Since 1954, thousands of volunteers in the Christmas-crazy town of North Pole have run the heart-warming tradition of replying to letters addressed 'Santa Claus, The North Pole' forwarded to them by the USPS. But no more. Officials cut the tradition after an 'Operation Santa' volunteer working on the programme in Maryland was revealed last year to be a registered sex offender.

Doug Isaacson, mayor of North Pole - where streets have been given names like Santa Claus Lane or St Nicholas Drive - slammed the move as 'Grinch-like'. He noted that in five decades the letters - some 150,000 last year - have been answered without incident.

'North Pole, Alaska, is known as the city where the spirit of Christmas lives year round,' Mr Isaacson lamented to CNN on Friday.

The new policy is a privacy issue, safeguarding young children from their personal information being given out, said Postal Service spokesman Ernie Swanson. 'There's been concern on the part of outsiders about the Postal Service just handing out this information to people and what could happen.'

Mr Isaacson said children could still get around the new policy by addressing letters to a specific address in his town of 2,100: 'Santa Claus House, North Pole, Alaska' or even simply the city hall, and they will get a reply with a North Pole postmark. 'But if you just send it to Santa at North Pole, Alaska... the grinch might steal it.'

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