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Little boy blue

Letter carrier gives costume to toddler

Julius Westfall, 2, wears the USPS-licensed Halloween costume he received from his pal, Philadelphia Letter Carrier Jody Forte.

A Philadelphia letter carrier recently delivered quite a treat to a little customer along his route — just in time for Halloween.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Jody Forte gained a friend in 2-year-old Julius Westfall. After months spent at home social distancing, Julius began looking forward to Forte’s daily deliveries.

Because the boy’s parents, Thea and Scott Westfall, have been busy working from home, Julius has been entertaining himself by lining up his USPS mail truck toys on the windowsill in time for Forte’s arrival.

Julius has even learned the sound of Forte’s vehicle. “As soon as he hears the mail truck coming down the street, he makes a beeline for the door,” Thea said.

Forte looks forward to seeing Julius, too. “He waves to me from the window. We’re buddies,” he said.

It was no surprise when Forte recently learned from Thea what her son wants to be for Halloween this year: a letter carrier.

“The next day, I just came out and there was a mailman costume right on the front door. It was a surprise,” said Thea. A note attached read, “Enjoy!”

Forte gave Julius the child-size costume that he once dressed his own sons in for Halloween. The outfit was passed down to Forte from colleagues whose children had outgrown it.

“He’s really excited about it,” Thea said. Although Julius and his older brother, Theo, will skip traditional trick-or-treating this year, they’ll get to wear their costumes while searching for hidden candy in their own yard and going on a Halloween hike.

Julius is a bit of a trendsetter: Letter carrier costumes are one of the most popular Halloween choices this year for people of all ages, although USPS has only licensed versions for children and dogs. The canine costume is popular, too.

The Westfalls have also displayed colorful signs of support thanking the Postal Service throughout the pandemic.

“We feel the Postal Service really deserves recognition,” Thea said, adding that her family appreciates the reliability of employees like Forte.

“Everything around us just changed but the mailman came every day. So Julius connected with Jody’s consistency. It was so important to him. He couldn’t understand what was going on in the world, but the mail delivery gave him a sense of security,” she said.

Forte, a 15-year USPS veteran whose route includes the same Philadelphia neighborhood where he grew up, said he has been enjoying the recognition since a local TV station aired a report about his surprise for Julius.

“‘Hey, are you that mailman?’ someone will ask me at the grocery store,” he said. “With all the stuff going on in the world and 2020 being the mess it is, the story makes people happy.”

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