October 20, 2021

Santa Claus is coming to town

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Santa Claus helps Jessie Bishop, 3, of Canastota, onto his sleigh recently at the Waterworks in Cortland.

It’s Christmas morning. You’re 7 years old and just started tearing into the wrapped gifts under the tree. Three weeks ago, you sat at the dining room table writing an extensive wish list and a letter like the one to the right for the Big Man in Red. You didn’t notice that he probably spells it ‘Kris Kringle.’

The only response you’re looking for are the things you asked for wrapped neatly under the tree. Or sloppily, so long as it’s wrapped.

You weren’t the only one. Children from all over did the same. Even a few in Freeville.

Through volunteers, excerpts of letters to Santa were made available. However, due to privacy concerns and maybe a confidentiality clause in a North Pole contract, names of the children were unavailable.

One child asked Santa for a Hatchimal — an egg that hatches a colorful creature — a drone and a puppy.

Another child claimed to Santa they had been mostly good this year and in return would like a toy computer and a Nintendo, promising in return to leave milk and cookies for Old Saint Nick as well as a carrot for the reindeer.

“How is the North Pole,” opened one letter. “I’m sure it is busy.”

That child asked for a computer even though they know it’s a lot of money.

Socks, requested another child. And a new iPhone. They even thanked Santa ahead of Christmas.


Letters to Santa are great, but some kids just can’t wait to see Santa himself.

Most everyone has seen the classic “A Christmas Story.” When Ralphie is unable to get through to his parents that the one thing he wants is a Red Ryder BB gun, he plans to ask Santa himself. We all know how that plays out.

Bill Lee and Charles Dellow especially know how that plays out. They, shall we say, know the mysterious Mr. Claus. Deeply. Personally, even.

Since 2006, Lee has been an unofficial ambassador to the North Pole. Dellow has been a special envoy for four years now.

They’ve sat and watched while hundreds of children spent a few minutes talking with Santa about their Christmas wishes.

They’ve seen the skeptics. The kids who go to the mall or a weekend event and sit on the lap of a person who resembled the Jolly Old Elf, but they knew deep down — perhaps correctly, perhaps not — it really wasn’t him. It couldn’t have been that he was too busy to take time out of his schedule to visit all the children. But even if they doubted the lap, they had faith in the person they just spent three minutes with to pass their wishes on to Santa himself.

“I believe in the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of Santa Claus,” Lee said.

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Letters to Santa excerpts

“Dear Santa, I would like a Hatchimal, a drone and a puppy.”

“Dear Santa, I want Nintendo S and a toy computer because I’ve been mostly good this year. I will leave you cookies and milk and a carrot for your reindeer.”

“Dear Santa, How is the North Pole? I am sure it is busy. I would like a computer. I know it is a lot of money.”

“Dear Santa, I would like socks and the new iPhone. You’re welcome!”

Over the years, the kids have asked Santa for an array of gifts, Lee said, some more memorable than others. They tend to be the things outside of what Santa can do. “Like mommy and daddy getting back together again,” Lee said.

Sometimes kids ask for world peace. Lee said it makes an elf wonder if the kid just heard something or really believes in it.

Kids typically ask for the usual array, Dellow said, however one boy this year had a different approach with Santa. Instead of asking for toys, he made a statement.

The boy looked at Santa — “I hope parents don’t send letters to Santa asking them not to bring presents.”

“He was serious as could be,” Dellow said.

Another kid wanted a piece of construction equipment because his father worked in construction, Dellow said.

Once, one of Dellow’s favorites, a kid asked Santa for a Christmas gift. There was only one problem, the kid was too excited to talk. “They just kept going I…I…I…I want,” Dellow said.

Both Kringle collaborators said children always ask for the typical gifts, too:

• LEGOs.

• Pets.

• Games.

• Electronics like computers and video games.

• Barbies. Lots of Barbies.

Lee said he has even known children to ask for cell phones as they look at mom and dad.


Joe Riggins, 71, of McLean said Thursday he never remembered asking Saint Nicholas for anything. “I always got presents from my parents,” he said.
But one year, when Riggins was 7, he got a loudspeaker truck, an electric microphone, he said. “I was pretty happy with it until it didn’t work right,” he said.

Santa has a complaint department, but he doesn’t do returns.

Brian Sanders, 24, of Cortland said Friday he was 12 and asked Santa for a BB gun. His mom had told him he had to wait until he was 12 to ask.

That Christmas he got one. “It made me feel good,” Sanders said. And he didn’t put an eye out.