Kids have had a tough go of things throughout the pandemic. They’ve been schooled virtually, they’ve been distanced from their friends, and their birthday parties have been reduced to neighborhood drive-bys.
Kids and parents alike are desperate for a sense of normalcy. With Christmas just around the corner, millions of kids are going to be looking to sit on Santa’s lap.
Mall Santas have been a tradition for decades. Parents will drag their kids to the mall Santa, stand in line, and pay for photos. Kids get to sit next to Santa (and sometimes Mrs. Claus, too) and say what they want. Santa smiles, nods, and gives a cheerful Ho! Ho! Ho!
How in the world are kids supposed to visit with Santa when there’s a global pandemic plaguing the country? No one wants to take the chance of their kid (or themselves) getting COVID-19 from Jolly St. Nicholas.
It’s not pretty, but malls and other shopping areas have made some big changes to compensate for COVID-19.
In some instances, Santa is wearing a mask. It’s not a great fit over his beard as white as snow, but at least it’s a way for him to cover his mouth and nose.
In areas where there is no mask mandate (or Democratic leaders are being stubborn), Santa’s shop is set up a little differently. Santa might be set up behind a plexiglass wall. Kids will talk to Santa from a distance. Then, with a few creative camera angles, Santa is seated behind the plexiglass while the children are seated in front.
In other instances, there’s no plexiglass but there’s still a distance of at least 6 feet.
What about the kids and babies that are used to sitting on Santa’s lap? That’s not possible simply because of fear of spreading germs. So, mom or dad better plan on being in the picture this year in order to hold the kids in front of Santa.
Appointments are often required, too. This limits the number of people potentially standing in line to wait to see Santa.
All of the different photo companies and malls have had to get creative. It was necessary to have Santa around throughout the holidays. Kids have had to give up enough this year. Giving up Santa was simply not an option.
So, it was all about being creative. Modifications are made and life goes on.
There’s also the virtual Santa experience. This is a chance for kids to Zoom with Santa. They’ll be able to tell him all about what they want to see under the Christmas tree. Many visits are limited to five minutes, which is more than what a typical lap experience offers. A photo is taken during the chat, allowing parents to have something that they can share on social media or print on their own.
For kids who don’t want to see Santa but still want to get their list out to the big man in red, there’s the possibility of dropping off a list to the big red North Pole mailboxes in front of Macy’s or using websites like aletter4santa.com in order to send off an online message with a list of wanted items.
Santa is the once-a-year experience that many kids look forward to. Parents don’t have to feel as though they have to disappoint little ones. It’s a different experience, but it’s an experience, nonetheless. It means that parents can mask up their kids and head to the mall or follow stay-at-home orders with a virtual experience.
The Santa visits are just like anything else during the pandemic. It may not be the way it’s always been done, but those that learn to evolve and think outside of the box will continue to thrive. Plenty of creative options are out there, so there’s no reason to miss out on Santa just because of COVID-19.