Local Santa sets up North Pole mailbox in Mount Vernon neighborhood
For the third year running, families are driving up to a festively decorated mailbox in one Mount Vernon neighborhood and letting their kids deposit letters addressed to a certain North Pole resident. The Christmas miracle is that Santa actually mails a letter back to the children.
The North Pole mailbox was the brainchild of Rosario Smirne, an eight-year resident of Mount Vernon. Smirne is also known as “Santa Maverick” — a younger, svelter and hipper version of the jolly, white-bearded fellow — thanks to a friend who made him a fashionable red holiday suit last year. Santa Maverick raises funds for children with cancer, occasionally gets booked for corporate parties, makes TikTok videos and sells candles via his website.
In December 2020, early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, Smirne thought about the many kids who were unable to get up-close and personal with Santa at department stores and other locations that holiday season. He decided to post on Nextdoor about his idea for a North Pole mailbox. He didn’t expect broad participation, but during the first year, around 100 kids stopped by to mail letters to Santa. He did it again last year and received 150 letters. All of the writers received responses.
“People have come from as far as Maryland,” said Smirne. “I’ll see people lined up to put letters in the box.”
The thing that surprises people most, said Smirne, is that he handwrites personal notes back to the children. “I’m getting more creative with it,” he said, noting that he uses red envelopes, a Santa stamper and letterhead, stickers and sealer.
Smirne set up the North Pole mailbox again earlier this month, and he says it will be available for letter deposits until Dec. 19 or 20 to give Santa time to respond by Christmas. Among the children he’ll be writing back to are his two youngest children, ages eight and three.
The North Pole mailbox is located at the corner of Fairfax Street and Robertson Boulevard in Alexandria. Families should make sure that a return address is included in the letter.