Santa makes special deliveries in Natchez

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 24, 2010

NATCHEZ — Even the most self-proclaimed Scrooge living on Frank Patti’s mail route couldn’t help but crack a jolly grin Thursday when Santa Claus delivered the bills.

Dressed as Santa, Patti whipped his sleigh, a U.S. Postal truck, around town just one day shy of the big night, delivering mail to all of the good boys and girls of Natchez.

Patti, 58, has been delivering mail to folks in Natchez for 23 years, and he is well known on his route in parts of downtown.

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Six or seven years ago, Patti decided to dress up as Santa to shake things up for the season.

After the postmaster gave him the green light to go ahead, Patti suited up and has delivered some holiday magic along with the letters and Christmas cards.

The reactions of the Children are the main reason Patti said he dresses up.

“They say, ‘There’s Santa!’” Patti mimicked.

“I ask them what they want for Christmas, and I tell them, ‘Well, you’ll get it!’” he laughed.

He enjoys playing along with the children, but find that adults also enjoy the unexpected dose of Christmas magic.

“You’d be surprised, the older people have really enjoyed it,” Patti said.

He said he delivered more packages than usual Thursday, which will probably be placed directly under the Christmas trees.

The weather was perfect for his red felt suit, beard and faux boots, which slipped conveniently over his black walking shoes.

“I am kind of very lucky it was not like (Wednesday), it might have been a little warm,” he said.

During this season of giving, many of the residents who have greeted Patti at their mailbox for decades gave him a Christmas gift of fudge, cards, cash or other goodies.

He was even invited Thursday to crash a few office parties as Santa, Patti said.

“Today’s been fun,” he said.

But even Santa must eventually hang up his hat.

Dec. 31 will be Patti’s last day as a postman, as he will be retiring starting the first of this year after 37 years of service to the U.S. Postal Service.

Evident in Patti’s Christmas stunt to spread holiday cheer and interact with others is the thing he will miss most about his job.

“The people. I’ll miss the people,” he said.

“But it’s just my time to go.”

After delivering mail and taking workshop requests all day, Patti said he planed to take it easy Thursday night.

“I’ll probably go home and get some rest,” Patti said.

After all, Santa’s agenda tonight is pretty jam-packed.