Santa’s NOTL elf is collecting letters for the Big Man

Niagara-on-the-Lake’s favourite elf is back in town.

With Christmas only weeks away, the beloved elf known as Sandy Sugarswirl is ready to help Santa send off his Christmas letters.

“I look forward to it every year,” she said with a smile.

Sugarswirl has been one of Santa’s helpers for about 32 years and said she loves every minute of it.

She started her elf journey at Canada Post in Stoney Creek, but now she’s stationed out of the post office on Queen Street in Old Town.

She enjoys each individual letter she gets and reads every single one.

She held a letter she received recently close to her face, sounding out the words as she tried to decipher the crayon writing.

“I wish … for an Easy-Bake Oven,” Sugarswirl read aloud.

That letter had a homemade ornament dangling from the corner for Sugarswirl to add to her own Christmas tree.

For the most part, the letters are fun, she said.

“Sometimes there’s some heartbreaking letters, too,” she said, recalling one received a few years ago from a boy who only had one wish – to see his mother happy.

“I was just heartbroken,” she said.

She does her best to personalize every letter so that she can bring a little Christmas joy to each child.

“What I like to do, down here in the blank area, I’ll write my own little special message to them,” she said as she pointed to the bottom of one of Santa’s letters.

Her work station is stacked with letters, hot chocolate, cookies and, of course, the naughty and nice lists – everything an elf needs to assist Santa.

She’s a busy elf, responding to 350 to 600 letters to kids across Niagara and the Greater Toronto Area each season. She even received a letter from England once.

Letters can be brought to Santa’s mailbox at the post office on Queen Street or be placed in a regular mailbox where one of Santa’s other elves make sure it gets to Sugarswirl.

Letters can also be dropped in a special mailbox outside the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce office.

Kids will also have a chance to give their letters to the elves during NOTL’s Christmas Parade on Dec. 10.

This will be the parade’s first year back since COVID-19 began.

“We usually hand out little candy canes to the kids and collect any letters on the route throughout the parade,” she said.

“And then we just bring them back here and just start answering them,” she added.

Surgarswirl urges everyone to get their letters in as soon as possible and to always include a return address.

“If you sent a letter and then you haven’t received a reply for your child yet, please come in to the post office. If anything, I can have a letter for you that same day,” she said.

She also wanted remind kids to be happy and safe and to have a very Merry Christmas.

“And be on your best behaviour, because Santa’s watching,” she said with a smirk.

Letters should be addressed to: Santa Claus, North Pole, H0H 0H0, Canada.

Somer Slobodian, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report