A Sioux City-based company is offering kids around the world a rare holiday treat — a few minutes on the phone with Santa Claus. Anne Gaskell is C-E-O, or “Chief Elf Officer,” of Santa-Speaking-dot-com. Gaskell says six elves on the team provide “personalized Santa Claus experiences for children.” The three-to-five minute calls are live and can be ordered online by parents or grandparents. She says the person who orders the call can add all sorts of details so the elves can personalize the call. Gaskell says the kids are surprised Santa knows how naughty they are if they cut a brother’s hair or haven’t been making their bed. Afterwards, she says parents often see a behavior change in their kids — for the better. She says some parents choose to get a C-D of the conversation. Kids will often play the discs over and over to hear Santa’s voice. Gaskell says the age range of call recipients is wide-ranging. Some kids are as young as 18 months, which may be a bit too young, up through kids in the 12 and 13-year-old area — in addition to some adults who have requested calls from Santa in the spirit of the season. Gaskell says it’s heart-warming to hear the excitement in a child’s voice when they’re told it’s long distance from the North Pole. She offers a snippet from an actual call, in which a tiny voice greets a hearty “Santa,” and when he calls the tot by name and says she’s “On the good list,” she reacts with delight, chirping “Thank you, Santa!” Gaskell says the website features a host of kid-friendly activities. She expects about a half-million children from the U-S and Canada and as far away as Australia and New Zealand to log on to the website on Christmas Eve. She says the website offers a way for kids to hook up with Santa without feeling scared at the mall. Kids can also track Santa on Christmas Eve with what looks like live video from the sleigh in addition to e-mails and pre-recorded messages from Santa that can be phoned in the night of December 24th and.
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