At least there’s one holiday tradition the coronavirus won’t nix — though it will change things.
The Del Amo Fashion Center, in Torrance, will still welcome Santa Claus this year but will implement various health measures, such as having him meet children outside, to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Each year, malls around the country set up North Pole village, typically indoors, where children can sit on Santa’s lap, take a picture with him and hand Father Christmas a list of presents they’d like. But because of the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing health orders that requires malls to close indoor common areas, such as food courts, that can’t happen this year — just one of multiple holiday traditions that have been canceled this year.
But the Del Amo Fashion Center, one of the largest and most popular malls in all of Southern California, found a way to still have St. Nick visit, with the help of Cherry Hill Programs, the company that runs the Santa Photo Experience, which is set to run from Friday, Nov. 27, to Dec. 24.
“This year guests will notice a number of changes throughout their in-person visit with Santa,” according to Cherry Hill Programs, “all designed to support the health and well-being of guests, staff and Santa.”
For starters, Santa and his elves will set up shop outdoors, according to a spokesperson representing the Torrance mall.
Holding events in the open air, health officials have long said, is less risky than holding them indoors.
The one bummer for kids, however, is that visiting Santa will not be a “contact experience,” according to Cherry Hill — meaning no sitting on his lap.
But they will be able to take photos with him, though they must maintain social distance. Santa and his staff will also wear masks, a requirement guests must follow as well.
“During the visit, children will absolutely be able to have a magical visit with Santa to share smiles and their wish list,” Cherry Hill said, “while maintaining social distance and everyone will be wearing masks.”
Those who wish to let their children meet Santa should also schedule an appointment, to keep lines down and gathering at a minimum. Cherry Hill also said it encourages folks to use contactless payment.
Santa and his staff, meanwhile, will daily health screenings and temperature checks, Cherry Hill said. The company will also regularly clean and sanitize the set.
“The COVID-19 pandemic certainly introduces a new set of considerations, guidelines and best practices to which we are evolving our operation,” Cherry Hill said in a statement. “However, our experienced team and our clients with whom we partner are innovative and creative in our approach and follows guidelines from health professionals.
“We’ve been working closely with our clients since the spring,” the company added, “to ensure we have plans and procedures in place that focus on the safety of our guests as well as staff, while delivering a magical experience.