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story.lead_photo.caption RACHEL DICKERSON/MCDONALD COUNTY PRESS Mary (left) and George Tarwater are among the volunteers who carry on the tradition of the Christmas stamping at the Noel post office every year.

The annual Christmas card stamping tradition at the Noel post office has begun for this year's holiday season.

Each year volunteers stamp thousands of Christmas cards that come through the post office with special cancellation stamps boasting the "Christmas City's" name, Noel, which means "Christmas" in French.

Mary and George Tarwater of Noel were among the volunteers who stamped cards this year. They have been volunteering each year since the mid-1990s.

"We like doing it," George said. "We see people we don't see except when we get into town here. And we enjoy it."

"We have a lot of people that bring their cards from as far away as Kansas City," Mary said, as well as from closer towns such as Bella Vista, Ark., and Rogers, Ark.

"You just meet super people," she said.

She continued, "People will box up their cards and mail them to the post office from different countries and all over the U.S. We have a map on the wall so, when we get cards from different places, we put push pins in it. In general, everyone just has a great Christmas spirit. It really adds to the season."

Volunteers start stamping cards the day after Thanksgiving and work all the way up to Christmas Eve, George said.

Postmaster Don Spiares said, by about 10 a.m. on Nov. 28, the post office had received 2,200 cards, which is a bit slow, but not as slow as this time the past two years. When he took over as postmaster in 2012, the post office received 85,000 Christmas cards that year. Last year it only received 30,000 to 35,000. He hopes to see an increase this year, he said.

"I think a lot of it is because Christmas cards have gone by the wayside. People aren't sending them anymore," he said.

The special Christmas stamps date back 86 years to when Edward T. Rousselot was postmaster in Noel. He proposed a Christmas cancellation from the only town in the U.S. named Noel. The tradition started in 1932 but became extremely popular in the late 1940s when Kate Smith, a popular radio and television singer, learned of Noel and began telling the story every year at Christmas time on her broadcast.

The big news this year is the Noel Junior High School art club has painted the windows of the post office for Christmas, Spiares said. All the students submitted design proposals, and Spiares and the teacher chose designs together, he said.

Spiares also said Dot Harner of Noel is responsible for decorating the post office lobby and coordinating the volunteers each year.

General News on 12/06/2018

Print Headline: 86-Year Stamping Tradition Continues In Noel

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