1. Archive

Santa wears gloves to open kids' letters

The resident Santa Claus in this Central Florida town has been answering children's letters for 33 years.

But this season the man with the white beard and jolly disposition is getting ready for mail call _ with gloves.

The U.S. Postal Service sent Jack James a box with rubber gloves and surgical masks to aid him as he answers an expected 6,000 letters this holiday season.

"I had some fear, but we talked about it and decided to go ahead," James said.

Postal officials and volunteers like James and his wife Alice are keeping up a strong front, vowing not to let the season's bioterrorism fears end a beloved tradition.

Many of the letters have no return address, extra postage and lumps _ a cookie or candy crammed in as a good will offering.

James' letter writing has earned him the name Santa, and the letters have poured in since area postal officials discovered James' rosy-cheeked charm in 1986. Now he answers letters from around the world from his home on Fort Christmas Road.

He replies with a postcard, with a picture of himself as Santa on the front. His wife addresses them.