Angel Station

The 2021 Angelica Angel Station postal cancellation.

ANGELICA — With worldwide popularity, the Angelica Angel keeps the miracle alive.

Twenty-five years ago the federal government was closing small post offices across the country. The Angelica Booster Citizens did not want to see that happen to their post office, so one of its members, an artist, came up with an idea.

“At Christmastime I would always see on television about how towns named Snow or Bethlehem would be having celebrations. I thought it was a wonderful thing and I wondered why Angelica couldn’t do the same thing,” Pat Kaake the Angel Station cancellation artist recalled.

“A post office is an important part of a small community. I cringe when I hear television ads saying, ‘You’ll never have to go to the post office again.’ A post office is the heart of the community. You just don’t pick up your mail there. You meet people and friends, find out how they are and what they’re up to. You find out what is happening in the community,” Kaake said.

Taking the angel out of Angelica, Kaake went to work on her kitchen table. She admitted that while she attended art school her work “never made it to fine art,” but her hand-drawn folk angels have delighted people from around the world.

Kaake grew up in Buffalo, but often visited the rural community of Angelica during her childhood. Her pleasant memories of community and small-town life prompted her and husband Don to move their young family from Detroit to Angelica when their children were young.

After a quarter-century, the angel project has grown into a worldwide affirmation of the spirit of Christmas and created the miracle that has kept the doors of the post office open.

Last December alone, more than the 10,000 pieces of mail were canceled with the 2020 angel.

“We get requests for the cancellation from around the world and from every state,” said the post office manager, Darlene Histed.

It was Histed who changed the cancellation from a one-day event to an almost month-long celebration. She explained, “When I first got here five years ago it was still a one-day cancellation. That year I received over two hundred requests for the cancellation from someone in the military. The request came in late, so I had to send them all back, It was heart breaking and I knew I never wanted to do that again.”

So, she got the cancellation extended and now, anyone from around the world can get their holiday mail cancelled with the current cancelation from Dec. 3rd to Dec. 24th.

After 25 years of angels, Histed said she doesn’t have a favorite. “Every year when I see the new angel, ‘I think oh boy isn’t that beautiful?’ I applaud Pat (Kaake) for what she does.”

At almost eighty-three, Kaake, who designed the first Angelica Angel Cancellation in 1997 says that art is still an important part of her life. “It keeps me sane,” she admitted.

Cognizant of her age and health, Kaake has created Angelica Angels for years to come.

“It is a tradition that I want to continue after I’m gone. I hope the post office and the community keeps it going. With all that has happened in our country over the past two years, I hope the Angelica Angel is a positive reminder the goodness of Christmas and the joy of the season.”

Each Angel Station cancellation is different, and a poster of all the angels hangs in the vestibule of the post office.

Each year a new angel design is submitted to the U.S. Postal Service for approval. After the holiday season the cancellation is destroyed.

The angel cancellation has found success the world over with philatelists sending mail to be cancelled as well as people sending bundles of Christmas cards to the post office to be cancelled. The number of pieces of mail in December for the Angelica post office increased every year so much so that one postmaster dubbed it, ‘Angel Station’ and the name stuck. Following an article in Country magazine a few years ago, Histed said the number of requests soared.

This year the 25th annual offering of the Angel Station cancellation at the Angelica Post Office will debut today, when postal employees will be in the lobby to hand-cancel mail brought in that day. Customers from other towns are welcome to bring in their mail for the cancellation. While in the past the celebration included cookies and cocoa, due to spiking cases of Covid there will be no refreshments or gathering.

The Post Office will accept all mail to be postmarked with the Angel cancellation through Dec. 24.

All mail requesting the Angel Station postmark that is received after Dec. 24 will be for collectors only and for only 30 days. Provide a return stamped envelope or your postmarked item with a stamp will be sent through the normal mail stream. For more information, contact the Angelica Post Office at (585) 466-7689.

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