(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Santa Claus is coming to town this year, but it's going to be different this year due to COVID-19.
Despite the local rise in COVID-19 cases, jolly ole St. Nick is making his regular stops at East Hills Shopping Center this holiday season, but telling Santa your Christmas wish won't be the same.
“I don’t think we wanna kill the magic of Christmas and so we want to stay safe, but we want to have an option for kids to see Santa,” said Tyson Huff-Garza, Marketing Director of East Hills Shopping Center.
Santa Claus has a new ride this year. Instead of sitting in his signature chair, Mr. Claus will be sitting in his big red sleigh and kids on his nice list will be sitting next to the sleigh, in Santa's velvet chair.
While kids won't be sitting on Santa's lap this holiday, Huff-Garza said it will still be magical.
“We talked about doing a plexi. A lot of malls are doing a plexi in the middle where the kids are on each side. I didn’t love that idea because it still seems barricaded,” said Huff-Garza.
Children waiting in line for Santa will have to wear a mask up until they sit next to Kris Kringle and take a picture.
Even Santa Claus is wearing a see-through mask this year.
Ole St. Nick won't be handing out candy canes either and his stops in St. Joseph will be shorter in hopes of keeping Old Man Christmas safe.
“The magic of Christmas does not need to be cancelled. If those people don’t feel comfortable, they can write letters to Santa. We’re going to have a mailbox out here. I think it’s important to possibly end this year on a good note.”
Huff-Garza said there's been less job applications to play the part this year due to COVID-19.
Before flying into town from the North Pole on Black Friday, Santa will be at East Hills this Saturday from 5-7 p.m. for the 6th annual tree lighting.
For a complete list of dates Santa will be East Hills Shopping Center, click here.