The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Life

December 22, 2010

Texts, Web really do allow Santa to be everywhere

PHILADELPHIA — He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake, and he knows how many followers you have on Twitter.

Not long ago, there were two ways to tell Santa Claus what you wanted for Christmas: sitting on his lap or writing a letter. Now, like with just about everything else, St. Nick is available by text or e-mail, Twitter or Facebook. Kids can watch his worldwide journey online or take a phone call.

Santa Claus is truly everywhere. And just as unfettered access sometimes tempts adults to lose their cool on e-mail listservs or Facebook comments, spoiled kids can be tempted to flame out on Santa.

"Some people have texted Santa that aren't so happy with Santa," said Drew Olanoff, who plays Santa on a text messaging system. "They've been a little rude. I've let them know that would be considered bad behavior. You really shouldn't talk to Santa like that."

The increased use of electronic services to reach Santa Claus reflects another reality of life outside the North Pole. Some major post offices, including Philadelphia, say they're handling far less mail directed to him. Chicago has handled about 10,000 letters to Santa this year, down from 15,000 to 20,000 in 2009.

So tech services are finding they can get a promotional boost from Kris Kringle without renting a red suit and a white beard. Most of them are in their first few years and use the gimmicks to show the power of their techologies.

Portable North Pole, a project launched by Montreal-based video web developer UgroupMedia, sends kids personalized videos from Santa — even those who deserve a lump of coal. Tell the site your kid hasn't been so good, and the video Santa peers over his glasses and tells the child: "You're on my naughty watch."

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