TOWSON, Md. (WJZ/CNN) — Be prepared for a different looking family photo with Santa Claus this year due to the coronavirus.
While the pandemic won’t keep Saint Nick from appearing at the mall or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, kids won’t be able to sit on his lap this year.
Brookfield Properties, a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management Property Partners and the second-largest mall operator in the country, said Santa will be in 134 of its more than 150 malls. The company owns the Towson Town Center, Mall at Columbia and White Marsh Mall.
“Santa is an important holiday tradition for many families but we are looking to pivot the experience for safety,” said Rocell Viniard, director of portfolio marketing with Brookfield Properties. The idea, she said, is to enable a “touchless experience” with Santa.
Santa will also wear a mask in states with a mask mandate, and guests will be required to do the same. In states with no mask requirement, Santa can wear a mask if he wants to, she said.
Brookfield said it is not requiring Santa or mall visitors to sign waivers in locations where masks are not a local or state requirement. Social distancing stickers will show people where to stand, and many properties will have special decor that keeps people six feet away from Santa.
“Every [visit] will be contactless. So kids can sit on wrapped packages near Santa, or across the table from Santa and have a conversation. We can still capture the memory for family photos,” said Viniard.
In some of its malls where Santa will make an appearance beginning November 20, he’ll meet and greet with families while appearing to sit inside a giant snow globe. In other locations, Santa will be behind a giant picture frame.
“Think of this like a drive-up window type of scenario,” said Viniard. “Guests will be able to walk up and have their conversation with Santa and then turn for the framed photo.”
For anyone who wants to skip a trip to the mall, Viniard said Brookfield is also launching a virtual visit with Santa experience, which kicks off on Nov. 1. Reservations can be made through the website ExperienceJingleRing.com.
Simon Properties, the largest mall operator in the US, said Santa will also be coming to its malls this year but declined to offer any details. Simon owns six mall properties in Maryland, including Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover.
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