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'Dear Santa...': Here's why it's the most wonderful time of the year in Santa Claus, Indiana

Her dad was Santa Claus, she was an elf, and the rest is history.

SANTA CLAUS, Ind. — Dream-filled letters sent to Santa Claus don't go to the North Pole or a snow-covered workshop. They go to the post office in Santa Claus, Indiana. 

"It is the only Santa Claus post office in the world," Mrs. Koch said, standing in front of the village's first post office. Her father was the first Santa Claus. 

The tradition started in 1930, when Ripley's Believe it or Not featured the village in a cartoon saying, "yes, there is a Santa Claus."

"And that brought a hundred thousand letters to this post office," Koch said.

She recalled the post office trying to relocate as a result, but the community successfully petitioned the change. 

That's when her father stepped up to take care of reading and responding to the letters, talking on the name of Santa Claus.

Credit: Santa Claus Museum

Since then, it's become a tradition. Santa's elves fill the historic post office, reading and responding to children across the World. During the pandemic, they've taken up a space at the nearby American Legion so that they can safely spread out. 

Koch opened a museum in 2006 that is now filled with history-makers from the small town, like Ripley's cartoon that put them on the map and even first documents naming the village Santa Claus.

Credit: Santa Claus Museum

For her, the holiday is a year-round way of life. "It's just such a joyful time. The music is joyful, that atmosphere is joyful. There's just so much sorrow and so much pain. Christmas time means relief from all the bad things that have happened and do happen." 

If you'd like to experience that relief, Santa Claus is a little over an hour outside of Louisville. In addition to the post office and museum, Holiday World is just down the road. 

The Spencer County Visitors Bureau estimated tourism revenue at $57 million in 2019. 

► Contact reporter Tom Lally at TLally@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter.