North Pole: Growing up in the town where it's always Christmas

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A Candy Cane sign saying Santa Claus LaneImage source, Shutterstock

You know how to get to Santa's house, right?

That's right. Head up Santa Claus Lane, of course. Then make a right onto Saint Nicholas Drive, just by the Wendy's burger bar.

Not an ordinary set of directions, maybe. But then again North Pole, Alaska is not an ordinary town.

Just ask 21 year-old Cody Meyer. He grew up in North Pole and now works at the Santa Claus House.

Don't call him an elf, though. He already has enough trouble explaining where he's from when he meets new friends online.

"Usually it's like, 'Oh my gosh you're from the North Pole! Are you kidding?'" Cody tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"People are like, 'Is this a real town?' And then I have to show them on Google - yes, it's a real town."

Image source, Alamy

The small town of North Pole - population 2,117 - is 1,700 miles from the actual North Pole. But you'll still find reindeer grazing just off Snowman Lane, candy cane lights strung up everywhere and - naturally - the world's largest fibreglass statue of Father Christmas.

North Pole is a couple of hour's drive south of the Arctic Circle. It's a popular tourist attraction and, of course, the destination for any letter received by the US Postal Service addressed to "Santa Claus, North Pole".

Those letters are answered by a team of volunteers at the nearby Eielson Air Force Base. Just to give the Big Man a rest, you understand.

"Santa's a busy man, so I'm sure he appreciates the help," says Mitzi Wilcox who's an Airman First Class and has been based at North Pole for two years now.

She says it's a unique experience: "How many people can say they live in the North Pole? We write letters back to kids all over the world. I remember writing my letters to Santa and I could only imagine how happy I would be if he had replied to me."

This time of year, though, there isn't much daylight to go around.

"Usually the sun will come up around 11am or 12pm in the darkest time of winter," explains Cody. "Then it'll go down around 3pm. So you get four hours."

"Happy lights [light bulbs that mimic sunlight] and vitamins are recommended for the lack of the sun," explains Mitzi.

But what about the cold? It can get down to around -25°C in December.

"I just layer up!" she tells us, adding, "the winter can seem long, but being so far north, we get to see the Northern Lights."

Image source, Alamy

So what's a night out like in North Pole? According to Cody, enjoying the outdoors helps.

"We go snowboarding," he tells Newsbeat. "Also there's snowmobiling and ice-fishing."

Image source, Shutterstock

But doesn't living in constant Christmas take the novelty away?

Two years in North Pole certainly hasn't dented Mitzi's festive feels: "Christmas is my favourite time of the year!"

And what about Cody? Ever felt like mimicking Buddy, ditching Santa's house and heading south? Nope.

"I love it," he tells us. "I'll probably stay here for a really long time if not my whole life."

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