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SANTA HAS HIT INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY

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What's the fastest route to get a Christmas wish list to Santa at the North Pole? The Information Superhighway.

Yep, even Santa is on the Internet, a worldwide network that computer users can tap into via various educational, business and online providers.Santa can be reached at several electronic mail addresses on the Internet. He promises, with a little help from his elves, to respond as quickly as possible to electronic letters from children - and even adults who still believe in him.

Given the volume of messages pouring into some of Santa's electronic mailboxes, the jolly old man may have to work around the clock to keep up with demand.

Internet Access Inc., of Ottawa, Canada, set up its electronic mailbox for Santa 11/2 weeks ago. It is receiving 500 to 800 messages a day, said Mary-Ellen Heney, administrator.

Internet Access also has a World Wide Web address for Santa; more than 50,000 people have dropped in on the site. The World Wide Web is a hypertext-based, graphical system for accessing information on the Internet.

USA CityLink opened its World Wide Web North Pole address last Friday. More than 20,000 people had "visited" the site as of Wednesday, said Donna Andrews, CityLink administrator.

Many of the visitors to Internet Access' mailbox turn out to be adults, Heney said.

"I don't know if they still believe in Santa, but there are a lot of curious people," she said. "There are still adults out there that so enjoy the Christmas spirit they can't resist writing a letter to Santa."

What do the adults put on their lists? The top requests, in order, are a car, a computer fully loaded with appropriate software and peace on Earth, Heney said.

Visitors to Internet Access' North Pole address can view pictures of Santa and hear a message from the busy toymaker about what he's doing to get ready for the big night.

Santa, his elves and his reindeers also respond to Christmas wish list messages. And there's a North Pole weather report, courtesy of Snowflake, the elf.

The popularity of the service means it can take two days or more for Santa or his helpers to respond.

"It's getting harder for those busy little elves to get to the letters," Heney said.

The No. 1 requested toy by little girls is Barbie; boys want Power Rangers.

A majority of children thank Santa for the toys he brought last year and many ask him to be sure to remember children in other parts of the world, Heney said.

They also remind Santa not to forget the cookies and milk they plan to set out for him or the carrot for Rudolph.

CityLink's North Pole is one of the most elaborate places to visit Santa. At CityLink's North Pole, parental visitors can download a letter from Santa they can customize for their children.

Visitors can also check out a virtual workshop, where Christmas gifts and toys are for sale at real prices. They can also check on the latest polar weather conditions, get holiday recipes - like Frosty's fruitcake and Prancer's Pumpkin Bread - and receive a special Christmas greeting from Santa.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Addresses - electronic and traditional

Santa's electronic mail addresses on the Internet are:

- santa@northpole.net

- santa@newslink13.com

- santa@cris.com

To reach Santa via the World Wide Web, a hypertext-based, graphical system on the Internet, try:

- URL http://www.neosoft.com/citylink

- http://north.pole.org

- http://northpole.net

- http://www.northpole.net

Of course, Santa still has his old metal mailbox posted outside his home at the North Pole. Children who want to reach Santa through the U.S. Postal Service can mail letters to him at:

- Santa Claus, Metro Mail, Saunderland, SR88 1AA UK

- Any letter addressed to "Santa" will be swiftly delivered to Santa and his helpers by the Postal Service.

Children can also send letters to:

- Santa Claus, North Pole, AK, 99705-9998

To receive a reply from Santa via the Postal Service, children should send their letters to:

- North Pole, 5400 Mail Trail, Fairbanks, AK, 99709-9998.

People who want North Pole cancellations for holiday mail may send letters in a separate envelope with a note requesting the special cancellation to:

- U.S. Postal Service, 5400 Mail Trail, Fairbanks, AK 99709-9998.