At a jolly 1,750 years old, Santa is most definitely in the high-risk category for severe illness from COVID-19. (According to legend, Santa was born in 270 A.D.) So, many North Pole helpers are setting up creative ways to make pandemic-era Santa visits special. From online interactions to contactless visits, here’s how kids can safely share their wish list with Kris Kringle.
“Many of us are going virtual,” explains Tom Carmody, who founded the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas. Carmody will host virtual visits through welcomesanta.com and its sister site santavideo.chat, and will also don a mask for in-person events with special “Santa Zones” that allow for social distancing and one-way traffic flow.
- SantaVisitsUSA.com offers families 1,000 storytimes, sing-alongs, tea parties and more. Virtual visits with Santa, personalized messages, and parties are offered for a fee.
- JingleRing expanded their online services in 2020 for ease of use on all devices. They offer a variety of options for kids to visit with Santa through their personalization engine, including different ethnicities, languages, faiths, and even Sensitive Santa for children with special needs.
- North Pole Colorado, the Santa-themed amusement park in Cascade, Colorado plans to operate at limited capacity with advanced ticket purchase required. Santa will appear for photos behind a garland gate.
- Some Colorado towns are finding creative ways to help kids interact with Santa, no jolly elf escort required. Through Santa’s Quest, the city of Fort Collins challenges families to find Santa Claus figurines hidden in storefront windows of participating Old Town businesses. Loveland, meanwhile, moved its annual Santa’s Workshop at Centerra to an outdoor format this year: at Chapungu Sculpture Park, families can pose for digital photos in front of Santa, then wander through illuminated sculptures at Winter Wonderlights. Loveland is also running a Santa Letter Dropbox at The Marketplace at Centerra. Drop a note, and snap an unforgettable family selfie.
- November 27 through December 24, Santa’s Flight Academy at Cherry Creek Shopping Center will return in 2020 with masks, reservation requirements, and a new layout to allow for social distancing.
- Starting December 1, families can get “real-time” updates from NORAD, the beloved Colorado Springs Santa tracking company.
Thanks to all these offerings, one thing is certain this season: Masks and distance won’t stop the magic.