‘It’s been really cute’: Santa visits go virtual at several Vancouver Island malls

'It's been really cute': Santa visits go virtual at several Vancouver Island malls
WatchDue to COVID-19 protocols, there aren't many visits with Santa happening this year, so some Vancouver Island malls are going virtual. April Lawrence reports.

In some Vancouver Island malls Santa Claus will be coming to town this year, but instead of lists it’s his microphone he’ll be checking twice.

But instead of his sleigh speeding, it will be his computer Zooming.

Because with the COVID-19 pandemic, many Santa visits in 2020 are going virtual.

“Well it’s quite different but it’s really quite a lot of fun,” said jolly old St. Nick himself at Westshore Town Centre in Langford Wednesday afternoon.

“We flew all the way from the North Pole and it’s lovely and warm down here, it’s just beautiful,” he added.

READ MORE: Islanders look to brighten pandemic days with Christmas light displays

The mall started planning for this moment back in the spring because cancelling visits with Santa altogether wasn’t an option.

“Christmas is a big deal at Westshore Town Centre, and it’s a big deal for the community and it just wasn’t an option to do nothing,” said the mall’s marketing manager, Kelly McClure.

They tried to come up with a way to allow those in-person Santa photos, whether it was behind plexiglass or socially distant as some other malls are doing but decided against it.

“Honestly we couldn’t come up with anything that was pretty enough or that looked good and didn’t feel awkward,” McClure said.

So instead you can book a five-minute virtual Zoom chat with Santa. There may not be a keepsake photo in the end, but McClure says in other ways it’s been even better.

“The kids so far are really excited about it, they like telling him which kind of cookies they’re going to bring, they’ve been asking what’s your favourite cookie and what should we leave for Rudolph? It’s been really cute,” she said.

It may not be a photo, but memories are most certainly being made.

“For me, I feel like photos with Santa are a fantastic thing to be able to keep over the years and look at every year and be able to watch those changes in your family but truly I think the little ones and the kids are more looking for a conversation with Santa, it’s more that conversation they’re excited about,” said McClure.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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