Santa Claus is coming to the time-honored Santa Shack again this year and will be in the downtown plaza for four dates in December, which include Dec. 8-9 and Dec. 15-16.

On Tuesday Dec. 4, crews began setting up the shack as well as a warming tent. With lows predicted to be in the single digits for the tradition’s opening weekend, visitors may want to bundle up.

The Santa Shack will be open on both days the next two weekends from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The shack, which the police and public works departments adopted last year, will feature donated refreshments, including hot chocolate.

For Todd Otto, who with Brian Vycital heads up the operation this year, the shack is a tradition worth keeping around, not for himself, but for the children of Belle Plaine.

“It’s truly inspiring, I think, giving kids the opportunity to believe [in Santa Claus],” Otto said. “A lot of it is just to keep the thought of Santa around and keep the tradition going. It’s something that everyone looks forward to as a community.”

If a child does not get the chance to personally tell Santa what she or he wants for Christmas—or even if they do—there will be a mailbox at the Santa Shack for children to drop off letters they have written to Santa. The letters will be published in the Dec. 19 issue of the Belle Plaine Herald and then forwarded to the North Pole. Otto recalled his letters to Santa often proved fruitful.

“It was always something when I’d write a letter to Santa, and lo and behold, I’d get the gift I asked for,” Otto said.

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