This year, Bustleton has its very own “Saint Nick.”
Nicholas Whalen and his wife Zena have installed a Santa mailbox outside their home at 9745 Hoff St. and are inviting children from the Northeast to drop off their Christmas letters and wish lists.
The Whalens will be responding to each letter with an answer from Santa.
Nicholas Whalen said he has thought about putting out a Santa mailbox for a few years and decided to do it after finding the box in the outdoor section at Walmart.
“It was just sitting there,” he said. “It was actually pretty beat up. It was not put together right or anything.”
Whalen, who got the box at a 10 percent discount due to the damage, fixed it up and put it outside on Black Friday.
“I love Christmas a little bit,” he said. “Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved Christmas. I’ve always loved sending letters to Santa and getting return letters and everything.”
Responding to all the letters may be the biggest challenge. The mailbox has been featured on local news stations, and a Facebook post about it has generated more than 1,700 shares and 320 comments.
“We’ve got to try and keep up with that as best as we can because, really, we can only respond to the letters and everything when our older one is in bed,” Zena Whalen said.
The Whalens have two children of their own, 14-month-old Seamus and 6-year-old Nikolas.
“Obviously, we don’t let (Nikolas) on social media or anything like that so I don’t think he realizes how big this has gotten,” Zena said. “To him, it’s still so magical, which is pretty cool.”
The Whalens said they have been contacted by people looking to donate time, stamps and money. So far, they haven’t set anything up for donations, but Zena said they might reach out to supporters if they need additional help.
The family said they would appreciate it if people include pre-stamped and addressed envelopes for responses. However, any letter with a return address will get a response. ••
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org