SHELBY, Ohio - It's the last day for Christmas cards and gifts to arrive before the big day, and this Christmas Eve they're being hand-delivered by someone special in one Richland County community.
This is mail carrier Jacob Harper's fourth Christmas Eve swapping his postal uniform for Santa’s red suit as he traverses his route in Shelby.
Harper is only 25 years old, but with his hair and beard died white, he’s a convincing jolly old elf.
Several passersby shouted “Santa!” as Harper walked his route.
“I love it!” said customer Irene Jones, who greeted Harper at her door. “Makes you feel like a little kid again.”
Harper said he’s inspired by his love for the Christmas holiday.
“I actually had a friend of mine suggest it to me,” he said. “Because I was Santa Claus at Halloween, and he was like, ‘You should deliver mail like this. You already act like Santa. You're delivering all the presents technically.’”
Harper also ensures that dozens of letters from Shelby children addressed to Santa at the North Pole receive a response.
“That's what Christmas is all about, making the kids happy and kind of creating that magic for them,” he said.
For the Herman family, the visit is a highlight of the day. Harper delivered cookies and posed for pictures with children.
“I think it's pretty cool because we get to see him early,” said 8-year-old Finn Herman.
Harper said it’s fulfilling to deliver Christmas cheer in addition to mail.
“December at the post office, it's rough,” he said. “But I get to see all the cheer, and it takes a lot of my stress of the holiday away because I know I make a lot of people happy.”