ST. LOUIS — The time-honored tradition of children writing a letter to Santa Claus at the North Pole is getting a high-tech update.
Santa "can't w8 4 Christmas,'' and he's so excited to let children know, he'll even send them a series of text messages.
A suburban St. Louis advertising and marketing firm, Anchor Communications in St. Charles, set up a Web site and is using its communications system to allow families to sign their children up to receive mobile phone text messages from Santa Claus.
Grandparents or parents can visit textsanta.net, where they type in a few basic facts about a child — such as their first name, age, gender and the name of a family pet or toy the child wants for Christmas. From there, the relative can schedule three times when they'd like the child to receive text messages from Santa Claus, which they can preview on the Web site.
Three text messages to a child cost $4.49, with one dollar from each child going to the March of Dimes in Missouri, said Anchor Communications president, T.J. Kirgin.
He said Monday the site is secure and does not retain the children's information after the messages are sent.
"Santa Claus sends out letters to children all over the world, and it's not a 'green' thing to do,'' Kirgin said, adding that the new system will allow Santa to "consolidate his operations and use less paper.''
Mainly, the staff at Anchor hopes the text messages will be fun for kids, while sending funds to the March of Dimes to improve the health of babies.
One mother, Stacy Thoelke, 37, of Manchester, said she and her husband signed up their 4-year-old son, Brett, to receive three text messages from Santa on his dad's phone.
Based on the Web site messages, the first text might say something like: "Brett my silly elves lost my list of good boys & girls Mrs. Claus told me ur on the good list so I wont forget 2 stop n Manchester 2 dlvr ur gifts luv Santa.''
Thoelke noted her son can't read yet, but said last year he got a Santa Claus letter in the mail and really enjoyed receiving it.
Thoelke, a Lutheran, said she teaches her son about celebrating Christmas as the birthday of Jesus Christ. But she also wants him to have fond memories of Santa Claus. She and her husband are looking forward to the text messages, too.
"You can never be too old to love Christmas,'' she said.