Christmas, Florida — Courtesy — Image by: Britt Kennerly FLORIDA TODAY
Christmas only comes once a year unless you live in a small town just east of Orlando, Florida. For those who live in the village of Christmas, they get Christmas cheer every day.
Christmas is a little town of just over a thousand people. The hidden destination straddles Highway 50, Colonial Drive, about midway between the Kennedy Space Center and Orlando. It is a rural town of mostly older homes, doublewides, and manufactured houses. However, Central Florida’s boom in tourists and space coast’s economy has never quite reached Christmas.
This doesn’t stop the thousands of people who visit from an annual pilgrimage of the holiday season, Christmas’s treasured Christmas stamp collection from the town’s small post office.
Dawn King was the postmaster at Christmas for 10 years before her retirement. “Our mail volume quadruples during the holiday season.” King couldn’t guess exactly how many pieces of mail the post office handles during the holidays, but she emphasized that it’s a lot. There are thousands of Christmas cards to be posted nearly every day, usually starting right after Thanksgiving. Only three employees manage the small office with no extra help during the Christmas rush.
“Kids come in with their parents and bring cookies,” says Dawn. “There is even a special mailbox in the post office lobby for letters to Santa, no stamp required.” Dawn added that Santa’s helpers try to respond to as many of those letters as quickly as possible.
People from all over the U.S. come to Christmas to visit the post office every year. “We get some people who come from Alabama every year,” says Dawn. A North Carolina couple also makes frequent visits. Boxes and boxes of cards are even shipped into the post office from around the country, and occasionally from overseas.
There is a table in the lobby where people sit and use special rubber stamps to decorate their Christmas cards before sending them out. A large Christmas tree sits in the lobby year-round.
In addition to the post office, there is also a permanent Christmas tree and display along the highway, just across the street from the office. The town has even named several streets after Santa’s reindeers, including Blitzen Avenue, the intersection of Comet Street and Cupid Avenue. Highway 50 is named Dasher Street and Rudolph also gets a road of his own.
For such a small town, there are actually a few things to do. Fort Christmas is an old Seminole Indian War fort that was built in the mid-1800s, giving the town its name. The fort has been completely restored and offers tours to learn about the early settlers in Central Florida.
Down the highway, you’ll find Jungle Adventures, a wild animal park where visitors can see live alligators, skunks, black bears, and others. It’s hard to miss the alligator head entrance right off Highway 50.
There are countless airboat operators in the area that will take you on a tour of the St. Johns River. The Tosohatchee State Wilderness area sits nearby and is a great place for hiking. Also in town is the Orlando Wetlands Park, which offers mountain biking and hiking trails in a 1,650-acre park designed to filter brown water from the Orlando water treatment lines.
Although there has never been a white Christmas here, stopping by the post office and fort make it worth the half-hour trip from Orlando.
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Melissa’s career in writing started more than 20 years ago. Today, she lives in South Florida with her husband and two boys.