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New documentary captures beloved Christmas tradition

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: 907-474-7902

11/23/09

Photo caption below.
Art credit: Kaleb Yates
"Letters to Santa" image is a frame from the documentary.
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Photo caption below.
Photo credit: Aaron Elterman, KUAC-TV staff
UAF student Kaleb Yates, edits his new documentary, "Letters to Santa," which runs during the holidays on KUAC-TV/AlaskaOne.
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KUAC/AlaskaOne will air a new documentary this holiday season about the people who keep the spirit of Christmas alive by responding to those who have written letters to Santa Claus.

"Letters to Santa," will premiere Thanksgiving Day at 9 p.m., and rebroadcasts during primetime on Nov. 29, Dec. 2 and Dec. 24. The show will also air at 3 a.m. the morning after each primetime broadcast.

The film is the work of UAF student Kaleb Yates, who completed the project as part of a class assignment with UAF journalism associate professor Rob Prince. It includes interviews of North Pole residents, such as Santa's Mailbag volunteer Gabby Gaborik, Postal Service employee Donna Mathews, and middle school teacher and former mayor Jeff Jacobson. The interviews are interlaced with vintage video clips.

Santa's Mailbag started in 1954, shortly after the city incorporated and the U.S. Postal Service began using the North Pole, Alaska postal cancellation. Six air traffic controllers working at nearby Eielson Air Force Base formulated the plan to mail letters from Santa to the children of military personnel stationed overseas. That first year, Santa's Mailbag answered about 160 letters. Over the years, the number of letters received by Santa and his crew of elves has steadily grown to hundreds of thousands from all over the world.

CONTACT: Gretchen Gordon at 907-474-1891 or via e-mail at gretchen@kuac.org. Marmian Grimes, UAF public information officer, at 907-474-7902 or via e-mail at marmian.grimes@alaska.edu.

ON THE WEB: www.letterstosantafilm.com

MG/11-23-09/098-10