By MADDY VITALEDowntown Ocean City, decorated with wreaths adorned with bright red bows, lamp posts wrapped with garland and old-fashioned horse and carriage rides, adds to the allure of visiting the resort during the holidays.And there is something else – Ocean City has a direct line to Santa Claus at the North Pole. Santa’s Mailbox is at Ninth Street and Asbury Avenue just outside of Mark Soifer Park.The bright white mailbox with red and green trim and the words “Santa’s Mail” painted on it holds children’s letters and wish lists for Santa.Merchants began the Santa’s Mailbox tradition decades ago and Santa’s helpers — the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce — is in charge of collecting the letters.And because of that, Chamber members get to read some special requests from the children each year, explained Michele Gillian, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce.This year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when health and safety are of utmost concern, events have been canceled and schools are hybrid or all-remote, above all else, the children want a return to normalcy, Gillian said.“Children have asked for bikes, video games, Legos, and other presents,” she said, adding that those requests are similar to those of previous years. “But the biggest request of all is good health and a return to our regular activities.”Like other holiday favorites, Santa’s Mailbox is all about tradition and continuing the holiday spirit, even in a time that has been challenging for so many, Gillian noted.Free horse and carriage rides are part of the holiday celebration in downtown Ocean City.The old-fashioned letter writing offers nostalgia for some and serves as a reminder that tradition is very important in the family-friendly resort, Gillian added.“The tradition of Santa’s Mailbox lives on in Ocean City,” she said. “Children of all ages are welcome to mail their Santa letters.”Gillian assured that each letter is collected and handed over to Saint Nick.“Santa’s elves are hard at work collecting them so Santa can respond,” she pointed out. “This tradition continues the magical memories for all of us. Ocean City welcomes traditions like Santa’s mailbox for generation after generation. There really is a Santa Claus that visits Ocean City often.”For more information about Ocean City and the Chamber of Commerce, visit www.oceancityvacation.com. Santa’s Mailbox stands at the corner of Ninth Street and Asbury Avenue close to City Hall.