CHRISTMAS – For the U.S. Postal Service, during one month every year, one of their smallest locations almost always remains super busy.
That town, of course, is Christmas, the small but historic community about 20 miles east of Orlando along State Road 50, on the way to Titusville and the Space Coast.
And that month, of course, is December, when people flock to the tiny post office for one reason: to have their Christmas cards stamped in Christmas, Florida.
“We normally mail out 400 to 500 letters a day, but right now we’re up to 5,000 a day,” said Angel L. Rodriguez Jr., the acting postmaster of the U.S. Postal Service office at 23580 E. Colonial Drive in Christmas.
“That’s a lot of mail going out,” he said.
The east Orange County town never sees any snow, but the tiny post office near the historic Fort Christmas certainly gets plenty visits from customers just before the holidays – and not all from local residents, either. As Rodriguez noted, people have driven long miles just to have their Christmas cards and holiday mail postmarked “Christmas, Florida.”
Rodriguez said this year has been no exception.
“It’s been a steady flow, but not as much as in previous years,” he said. “Maybe it’s the economy. It was busy yesterday, though.”
And as Christmas day gets closer, he added, “It does pick up a bit.”
His post office is quite popular with customers who have Christmas cards to mail, Rodriguez said, adding that December is always their busiest month.
“For the stamp with ‘Christmas, Florida,’ on it, that picks up dramatically,” he said. “They all tell me some of them have driven 60 miles, 100 miles, just to get that ‘Christmas, Florida’ stamp. We hear that on a daily basis.”
Since Florida in an international tourist destination, the people who flock here from across the globe to spend their holidays at the theme parks are also more than willing to make the drive from Walt Disney World or Universal Studios for that stamp, Rodriguez added.
“People who are here at Disney and hear about us drive up here for that,” he said. “They’re from England and Canada and Trinidad. It’s interesting. Throughout the year, they come for vacations at Disney and they happen to come by here when they’re driving to the Space Shuttle.”
That post office isn’t the town’s only claim to fame. A few miles away is the Fort Christmas Historical Park, with a replica of the original fort built in 1837 during the Seminole Indian War. The 25-acre park also hosts a traditional Florida “Cracker” house, seven pioneer homes, a sugar cane mill and historic farming equipment. The park’s Visitor Center has a lot of historical information about the community, and a gift shop.
In fact, the town was originally called Fort Christmas, but the word “fort” was dropped when the first post office opened in 1892.
“There is a history to Christmas, Florida,” Rodriguez said. “We have a Cracker Christmas on the first weekend in December, an event with paintings and arts and crafts and other activities at Fort Christmas, and we sell certain stamps, a ‘Cracker Christmas’ stamp. That’s a popular event they have, with drinking and food, and you get to see the old homes that are here.”
The post office can be found right after motorists pass the “Christmas” sign marking the entrance to the town. The post office is decorated all year round with a holiday wreath outside and Christmas tree in the lobby, even in the summer.
“It’s a small post office here, in a small building, not like a big post office,” Rodriguez said, adding that he employs four workers. But they are a historic novelty just the same.
“We’ve been here for a hundred years,” he said.
And not surprisingly, with Christmas now just days away, Rodriguez said his office is quickly running out of those precious Christmas stamps that folks love to put on their holiday cards.
“We are getting pretty close” to running out, he said. “I’m getting down to the wire. Once I run out of them, that will be it.”
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