Posing with Santa looks different this year due to COVID-19


HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – The countdown to Christmas is on, and many families are hoping to get that perfect picture with the big man in red.

Emily Boyle of Newport News came to the MacArthur Center in Norfolk with her family so her three kids can take a photo with Santa Claus.

“We come every year,” Boyle said. “It’s just for fun. The kids love seeing Santa. They get to tell him what they want for Christmas.”

But as Santa takes some time off from the North Pole to see if kids are being naughty or nice, his visit with them may look a little different this year.

Rachel McCarthy drove to the mall from Vienna, Virginia, with her five children. She said it’s a family tradition to visit her father on Thanksgiving and take a photo with Santa the next day.

“Obviously, they’re in the masks and we’re separated from Santa, but it’s still good to have the tradition and we got to have a picture for every year,” McCarthy said.

Santa Claus has to leave his mask on, but at MacArthur Center and the Greenbrier, Lynnhaven and Pembroke Malls, families have the option of posing with or without a mask, and they’re spaced six feet apart from the big guy.

“You can’t sit on his lap this year,” said Boyle. “You have to stand next to him and tell him what you want, but they were able to blow kisses and give air hugs.”

To avoid crowds and long lines, people are encouraged to make a reservation with Santa by going on the mall’s website or texting the request. The measure is meant to keep everyone safe.

“We are luckily in good health this year, so we want to make sure we don’t pass anything along to anyone else,” Boyle said.

Constant cleaning and disinfecting between visits with Santa is a must.

With all the changes in place because of COVID-19, one interaction with the big guy remains the same – rattling off a wish list.

“I asked Santa for a Barbie dreamhouse,” said Harmonie Jones, 5, of Suffolk.

Calvin Boyle, 5, said he should be on Santa’s good list this year and asked for a hot ticket item.

“A Nintendo Switch, but if he couldn’t find one, I would like a skateboard,” he said.

Calvin Boyle’s grandpa John also has a wish list, proving you’re never too old to ask.

“I’m asking Santa for a jaguar please,” he laughed.

For more information about making an appointment with Santa, click here.

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