With COVID-19 keeping Santa isolated and away from department stores and holiday meet-and-greets, how are good boys and girls supposed to let him know what they want for Christmas? Mrs. B’s Z-Place at 306 Third Street in San Juan Bautista has the answer.
In the days leading up to Christmas Eve, children can fill out a letter at the parklet in front of Mrs. B’s to put into Santa’s mailbox, with a personal guarantee from employee Sharon Simmons that the letter will be delivered to St. Nicholas himself.
“We have Santa letters for them to fill out,” said Simmons. “We have envelopes for them and they get to put it in the mailbox themselves. Santa reads them and if they put down an address, Santa will reply to each letter.”
The mailbox is available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (6 p.m. on Saturdays). Letters will be accepted until Christmas Eve, and children may bring their own letters any time to place in the box or deposit in the Z-Place mailslot. If parents leave a phone number on the letter or with Simmons, they will get a call revealing what their child has put on their wish list, in case Santa Claus misses anything.
Simmons came up with the idea last year while working for Patricia Bains (Mrs. B) at Z-Place. “I have been working here for three years and I have seen Santa Claus coming through town,” she said. “And I always thought he needed his own mailbox. Max Martinez gave me a mailbox last year and I made it all Christmassy for him.”
Martinez has been San Juan’s official Santa Claus for seven years, ever since he showed Bains a photo of himself in a Santa suit. “We needed a Santa here,” said Bains, “and Max was perfect.”
Martinez provided the mailbox after hearing that Bains was planning on using a cardboard box to collect the letters.
“When Mrs. B told me she was going to use a box,” he said, “I gave her an old mailbox I had in my garage. When Sharon heard that I had it, she got very, very excited. I brought it in and she made a stand for it and decorated it.”
Simmons decorated the mailbox and parklet in full Christmas style. There is a table for children to use to compose their letters, blank forms that allow for listing of desired presents, and single-use pens and hand sanitizer for personal safety.
The idea for the letter came from a form letter Simmons bought for her three sons several years ago.
“I thought it was cute so I got one for each of them,” Simmons said. “With all the commotion that year I never gave them the letters to fill out. They have been sitting around my house and when I saw them I thought, ‘If Santa is going to have a mailbox, he is going to need some letters to go with it.’”
The mailbox has been a success so far, with an average of 20 letters a day being posted.
“I have two big stacks at home on my coffee table,” Martinez said. “At first I thought, ‘What the heck am I going to do with all these letters?’ But I am going to read them all and find a way to respond, making notes on each one. I think it will be exciting to read what kids write and see what they want for Christmas.”
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