Seeing Santa safely during the pandemic

VIDEO: Visiting Santa during pandemic

Malls are adjusting to make it safe to see Santa during the pandemic. Most require reservations this year and don’t plan for anyone to sit on Santa’s lap.

KIRO-7 got a look at this year’s Santa photos at The Bellevue Collection. Santa is set up on the first floor in center court inside a storefront to help with social distancing.

Children will be required to wear a mask, so will Santa. This year he’s sitting behind a desk and there’s a plastic screen separating him from visitors to keep everyone safe.

Content Continues Below

Four year-old Adam Croy made sure Santa knew he wanted Hot Wheels. His mom explained to him why things looked different this year.

“We want Santa to be healthy, buddy, he has to be able to deliver the presents,” explained Keri Croy. The whole family got their photo taken.

“I think it’s pretty awesome, the whole experience, even when you’re in the middle of the pandemic and you can still go see Santa and be safe,” said Jeremy Croy.

The chair children sit on and the desk are sanitized between each guest. The heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system uses ultraviolet light to clean the air. Families need to make reservations online in advance at https://www.santaphotos.com.

“He’s got his list out and he’s checking it twice, just a real fun experience for the kids to feel that magic,” said Jennifer Leavitt, vice-president of Marketing at Kemper Development. “This is almost as important for the parents as it is the kids.”

In Issaquah at Issaquah Commons, Santa is sitting upon a porch, socially distanced from the children. They can walk up and tell Santa what they’d like for Christmas.

Jim Barbaley is the designer of the set and says Santa used to be inside the Santa house display next to the Issaquah Panera location.

“This year is a lot different,” said Barbaley, “What we’ve done is Santa is up here and customers are down here so it’s socially distanced, at least 8 feet apart, a reindeer’s distance apart.”

Eastside Baby Corner is the charity paired up with Issaquah Commons Santa this year and is hoping people will donate to the charity. With COVID-19, this year the need is greater than ever. They’re looking for 3,000 unwrapped toys to give to local children.

The charity works with 50 community partners. “We do everything we can to help kids grow, learn, play and thrive. We do that making sure they have the essential goods that are necessary: diapers, clothes, baby food and more,” said Mara Kealey of Eastside Baby Corner.

This year they are collecting toys through contactless drop-off from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 at Eastside Baby Corner, in Issaquah at 1510 NW Maple St., and in Kenmore at 6524 NE 181st St.

As a part of #GivingTuesday, you can text HOPE2KIDS to 44321 to make your donation. (https://babycorner.org/wintercampaign/)

This year most mall Santa photos require reservations online in advance. Virtual Santa visits are being offered by Sam’s Club and Nordstrom.