A Very COVID Christmas

Santa gives babies new reason to cry: They can’t sit in his lap

Seeing Santa this year could look a bit like visiting a jailed relative: Expect a transparent barrier to separate guests from the world’s most beloved home invader.

Or perhaps it could feel like Facetiming with an elderly relative at high-risk for the more sinister symptoms of COVID-19. You don’t want the Jolly Old Elf getting severely ill before the big delivery night, after all.

While popular holiday destinations such as malls and the Dallas Arboretum, as usual, will offer seasonal decorations and activities, the festivities will come with pandemic-inspired precautions: timed tickets, masking requirements, sanitizer stations, frequent cleanings, and, in some cases, plexiglass to help with social distancing.

“Santa is going to be 6 feet away, but still offer a magical experience that families look forward to,” said Kelly Hunter, spokesperson for Galleria Dallas.

The Galleria has a new Santa set shaped like a three-tiered sleigh with plexiglass separating families on the bottom level from Kris Kringle on the top.

“Bringing magic and wonder into the lives of children is more important than ever before.”

NorthPark Santa
NorthPark Center’s beloved longtime Santa returns this year, but, for safety reasons, his photo and story-time sessions will happen virtually, instead of in person. COURTESY: NorthPark Center

“When you take the photo, it looks like you’re in the sleigh with Santa,” Hunter said.

Families will receive all the digital photos taken so they won’t have to spend time selecting them, she said. “We have taken extra steps to make the entire experience as touchless as possible.”

To enhance the visit, parents making reservations can provide their child’s name and a few anticipated gifts.

“The minute the child steps into the experience, Santa can address the child by name and say, ‘I know you’re looking forward to the new Barbie doll,”’ Hunter said. “The child can have a really cool conversation with Santa.”

Encounters and photographs with Santa also will involve a see-through barrier at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Starting Nov. 27, he will occupy his house in The Christmas Village for photos every night as well as Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

“We will allow one family unit at a time inside the house,” said Terry Lendecker, vice president of advertising and promotions. “It’s the best COVID plan we have to have a live Santa.”

At NorthPark Center, the mall’s renowned storytelling Santa will social distance so much his guests will remain in a separate room. Virtual encounters with Santa from his home at the North Pole begin Nov. 27 and include a shareable commemorative photo and video. All proceeds will help Children’s Health research pediatric illnesses, enhance patient care, and improve wellness for children.

Santa’s famous tales from the North Pole will occur virtually also at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays beginning Nov. 28 at northparkcenter.com.

“I am so excited to visit with all of the children I’ve gotten to know over my many years of being at NorthPark,” Santa said. “Bringing magic and wonder into the lives of children is more important than ever before. These virtual visits and storytimes from the North Pole will make our time together safe and enjoyable while taking special care of our friends at Children’s Health.”

For nearly 40 years, People Newspapers has worked tirelessly to tell the stories—good, bad, and sublime—of our neighbors in the Park Cities and Preston Hollow. To support our efforts, please contact [email protected] for advertising opportunities. Please also consider sharing this story with your friends and social media followers.

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William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at [email protected]. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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