"It's Grinchlike that the Postal Service never informed all the little elves before the fact," he said. "They've been working on this for how long?"
But the Maryland incident involving the sex offender prompted more changes, even forcing the agency to briefly suspend the Operation Santa program last year in New York and Chicago.
The agency now prohibits volunteers from having access to children's family names and addresses, said spokeswoman Sue Brennan. The Postal Service instead redacts the last name and addresses on each letter and replaces the addresses with codes that match computerized addresses known only to the post office — and leaves it up to individual post offices if they want to go through the time-consuming effort to shield the information.
"It's always been a good program, but we're in different times and concerned for the privacy of the information," she said.
Moody said with as many as 800,000 items processed last year, Fairbanks is not equipped to handle the overload. Anchorage is the only city in Alaska with the high-speed equipment necessary to do the job without delay. Moody disagreed with the mayor's belief that the process creates a false postmark.
Santa Claus House, built like a Swiss chalet and chock full of all items Christmas, sells more than 100,000 letters from Santa and one of the lures is the postmark.
Those letters will still be forwarded to volunteers but it's unclear yet if anything will be done with them. Those intercepted by the postal service will probably eventually be shredded.