Dear Santa, Casper Speedway Accepting & Responding to Children’s Letters
It may come as no surprise that Chris McAuley, owner and operator of the Casper Speedway, loves the movie The Santa Clause (1994).
He says it's one of his all time favorite movies, and he can watch it anytime of year.
This year McAuley wanted to bring a little more Christmas magic to the Speedway.
He set up a mail drop-box direct to the North Pole. Anyone and everyone is welcome to bring their letters to Santa for free; if you put your mailing address on the letters, he will respond within one week.
The box is located at 1277 Amoco Road, as soon as you pull into the track, at the entrance.
McAuley says he was inspired to do this when his daughter came home upset one day because classmates had been teasing her, saying Santa Clause isn't real.
He wrote his daughter the first letter.
McAuley can remember writing Santa Clause his own letter when he way a boy, but doesn't believe he ever got one back.
When he became a father, he looked up companies online that would write kids letters back as Santa, but a lot of them were charging ~$15.
He said, "That's crazy--I wouldn't feel right charging people for that."
He said that one of the biggest drivers is "knowing you can bring that excitement to a child with a simple letter."
Originally he thought he would use a single template, but one of the first set of letters he got came from three sisters and he quickly realized he'd have to individualize.
With the help of the internet he was able to come up with enough to say.
He said he has to step in his office and lock the door, then hide the letters in his truck to get them to the mailbox the next day before his daughter sees them.
Now, for just a little while, McAuley is Tim Allen in the Santa Clause when he puts himself in the big bearded man's shoes to respond to all those wishlists.
If parents want the letters, McAuley is saving them and said he's more than happy to give them back.
We chatted briefly about how expensive Christmas has gotten. "Everything costs something these days," said McAuley, "so this is my way of giving back."
"Christmas isn't just about getting presents, but spending time with your family and being thankful for the things you have around you."
His favorite tradition is decorating the tree. He said he and his daughter always make cookies for Santa--at their house Santa likes chocolate chip.
In past years he would take his work boots and put them in a pan of water and flour to make it appear that Santa was really there the night before .
"She gets so excited she cannot contain herself," he laughed.
She has a stocking that's 35 years old, four and a half feet tall. It was McAuley's when he was a kid, and they sewed her name right under his.
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder