NOEL, Mo. – This December in McDonald County, an 89-year tradition is spreading holiday cheer. OzarksFirst took a two-hour road trip to a unique post office in the “Christmas City.”
Noel is a small town on the southwest corner of Missouri. Just about 2,000 people live there. It’s a town known for floating on the Elk River, or giant rock bluffs that hover over the old Highway 71. But just about every Christmas at its post office, Patricia Coggin says something magical happens.
“We have been doing this since 1932,” Coggin said.
Mark Inglett with the United States Postal Service says the tradition isn’t taken lightly.
“People cherish these things,” Inglett said. “They keep them for years, or they will hand them down to their grandkids.”
Joe Henretty could be part of that group.
“I came in from Oklahoma,” Henretty said. “I heard about it through my parents.”
For 11 months out of the year, the city is pronounced ‘No-le.’ But when the calendar flips to December, ‘No-Le’ becomes ‘No-El.’
“In the season of Christmas that is what we are right now,” Coggin said.
It just so happens that ‘No-El’ is the French translation for ‘Christmas.’ Henretty says this is why he made the four-hour drive from Oklahoma.
“We actually have some French friends we’re mailing out some letters to France,” Henretty said. “So it’s kind of a neat combination there.”
Every Christmas, people from around the world stop by, or send letters to the Noel post office. All for a unique holiday stamp on their mail.
“We do the red reef,” Coggin said. “Then we have the green Christmas tree.”
Each stamp says, “Seasons greetings from Noel, Missouri, Christmas City, USA.”
“We have gotten packages as far as China,” Coggin said. “People are calling me left and right all day long. The phone’s ringing, asking us if we’re still doing it this year and if they can send in their cards. It’s been such a joy for people to come in with a smile on their face. Just one of these stamps making them smile so much.”
Coggin has completed at least 10 piles of cards.
“I can just keep on going,” Coggin said. “It makes me happy.”
Coggin says by the time Christmas is here, her post office will likely have stamped more than 7,000 cards.