Here’s how Olympia kids can get a letter from Santa Claus this year

Dear Santa: Kids Wishes for the Holiday

Employees at Captain Little toy store in downtown Olympia are offering their help in collecting kids letters to Santa Claus, who will then write each child a return letter.
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Employees at Captain Little toy store in downtown Olympia are offering their help in collecting kids letters to Santa Claus, who will then write each child a return letter.

Some letters to Santa Claus focus on helping others, such as one from an Olympia boy who asked for money to help the homeless, or another letter from a child who asked Santa for world peace.

Other Christmas wish lists come with specific requests for Santa: “I would like a jumping train track with Thomas and a caterpillar with 13 legs, a head and eyeballs and a butterfly on it. I’ve been good.”

These are among more than 300 letters to Santa that have been “mailed” so far at Captain Little Toy Store in downtown Olympia. For the second year, the store is inviting children to stop by and write a letter to Santa that will get a personal response.

Captain Little will accept letters at the store, 121 Fifth Ave. SE, only through Dec. 10 to allow enough time for Santa to reply.

Many of the letters get a chuckle out of the store’s staff, such as those written by siblings who tell Santa that the other sibling belongs on the naughty list. Another recent letter asks for “tings for my dolls” and an “invenchin kitt” while also thanking Santa for the gifts he brought last year.

“A lot of them just want to talk to Santa,” said co-manager Sophie Damelio, who is touched by the sincerity of the letters. “My favorite part is reading all of them.”

Of course, Captain Little’s employees help Old St. Nick reply to hundreds of letters.

“This year, Santa has streamlined the process,” said store co-manager Michael Tempke, referring to some time-saving techniques. “There’s still room for a lot of personalization.”

For those who prefer to send stamped letters via snail mail, the U.S. Postal Service has a program that ensures children get a response from Santa with a North Pole postmark.

To participate, parents can send their child’s letter addressed to “Santa Claus, North Pole” along with a personalized response from Santa that’s addressed to the child. Both of those letters should be included in an envelope, along with proper postage, then mailed by Dec. 15 to North Pole Postmark Postmaster, 4141 Postmark Drive, Anchorage, AK 99530-9998. More details about the program are available at the Postal Service’s website at https://about.usps.com/holidaynews.

Those who prefer to meet Santa in the flesh have an opportunity to do so through Christmas at Capital Mall. Another place to see Santa this month is at the Olympia Farmers Market, where Yelm resident Gus Hull will channel his inner Kris Kringle for market patrons from noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 10-11 and Dec. 16-17.

Hull is a member of Norpac Santas, an organization of professional Santa Clauses in the Pacific Northwest. He has been working as a professional Santa for nearly a decade, but started growing his beard 28 years ago.

“People on many occasions have asked me if I ever get tired of kids pulling my beard,” he said. “Only adults pull my beard. Kids don’t do it unless an adult tells them.”

When children hand him a Christmas list, Hull always tells them he’ll do the best he can. And what does he say to kids who ask if he’s the real Santa?

“Most of the time,” he said, “I just say, ‘What do you think?’ 

Although the retired Intercity Transit bus driver gets hired regularly for holiday events, Hull said being Santa is a year-round responsibility.

“I can’t walk through Fred Meyer without someone saying ‘Hey mom, it’s Santa,’” said Hull, joking that his wife won’t let him out of the house unless his white beard is well groomed. “You’re representing Santa. You’ve got to look good.”