ST. JOHN — Christmas is being celebrated in St. John with new traditions to thwart the COVID-related disappointments of established Christmas celebrations, including a newly installed mail drop at the southwest corner of First and Main streets that has a direct link to Santa’s workshop.


No postage is required and when a self-addressed (and hopefully stamped) envelope is included in the letter, a reply comes directly from Santa and Mrs. Claus.


St. John USD 350 Junior-Senior High School principal Blake White, who is rumored to have close ties to Santa, reports Christmas is alive and well in St. John, a sentiment he said he shares with his wife, Becky.


"We love Christmas and we wanted to inspire the Christmas spirit in Kansas, so we met with Santa and he said he would love to get letters from St. John, Kansas, and we helped set up a mailbox just for him," White said.


Four-year-old Kyler Christie, son of Jill and Ryan Christie, had a letter for Santa that he deposited in the special red mail drop box two weeks ago. He already received a reply.


"So many things have been canceled this year, it’s fun to see the kids excited about mailing a Santa letter and being able to do it in a safe way," Jill Christie said. "And Kyler was excited to receive a handwritten response from Santa. I love seeing my kids smile."


Other new traditions this year in St. John include the first Lighted Christmas Parade, which will be held around the square (city park) at 5:30 p.m. Sunday under the supervision of St. John police officer Tori Perez.


Perez said a prize will be awarded to the first-place parade entry, inviting area residents to help join the parade to include floats, vehicles, golf carts and ATVs.


"The more lights the better," Perez said.


Lineup will start at the fire station at 5 p.m., with the parade to begin about 5:30.


Christmas Eve Jingle 2020 is another tradition in the making with residents encouraged to step outside to their doorsteps and ring a bell for two minutes to spread Christmas spirit and to help Santa fly his sleigh.


Stafford County deputy treasurer Amelia Romo is credited with suggesting the Christmas Eve Jingle Event with the Facebook posting, "After a tough year, it would be an amazing memory for the kids and community, ending 2020 with a sparkle of magic, hope and togetherness."