By GENEVIEVE SHAW BROWN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — The Santa-visit tradition that began 160 years ago won’t happen at New York’s iconic Macy’s Santaland this year.
They won’t take place at the Chicago or San Francisco stores either.
Though these holiday traditions have been interrupted by COVID-19, there are plenty of places still offering in-person Santa visits. But, like most things in 2020, the visits won’t look quite like years past.
At Bass Pro Shops and its subsidiary Cabela’s, Santa’s Wonderland “Contactless Claus” program uses a clear shield between Santa and the children, and features Santa and elves in masks, temperature checks and social distancing. A “Santa-tary Squad” cleans everything between each visit with Santa.
The program runs from Nov. 7 to Dec. 24 at all locations. Advance reservations are required. Each visit comes with a free photo and a free digital download.
At Brookfield’s 130-plus mall locations, in-person visits are happening — with changes.
A spokesperson told ABC News’ Good Morning America that Brookfield has redesigned the sets to make Santa visits and photos possible in a COVID world.
The designs vary from mall to mall — one visitor might see Santa in a snow globe, while another mall may have him inside a socially distanced photo frame.
All sets are equipped with health and safety features, including social distancing, hand-sanitizing stations and “intense” cleanings. Reservations are recommended.
For those who would prefer a virtual Santa visit, Brookfield malls offers those, too. It’s partnered with Jingle Ring for live virtual visits. The visit can be joined from multiple devices, bringing grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other loved ones together for the experience. Reservations can be made at www.JingleRing.com.
Personalized virtual visits can also come from self-employed Santas. While one Baltimore-area Santa was making free visits to kids in quarantine, he’s now available for the appropriate price of $12.25.
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