Everything about 2020 is weird and going to the mall to see Santa is no exception. The kids will still be able to visit Santa, but at least at some malls, they won’t be able to sit on his lap. Simon Properties has announced that at eight of its malls in New Jersey, visiting Santa will be a socially-distanced experience. It’s called the “Simon Santa Photo Experience” and will be available at the following New Jersey malls: Livingston Mall, Menlo Park Mall, Newport Centre, Ocean County Mall, Quaker Bridge Mall, Rockaway Townsquare, The Mills at Jersey Gardens, and The Shops at Riverside. The Santa Experience is being run by Cherry Hill Programs and includes the following rules:

  • Santa and his helpers will be masked as will all patrons age 2 and up.
  • Physical distancing protocols will be followed, including six feet of separation on the set and in line; barriers will be installed where separation is impossible.
  • Advance reservations are required.
  • An increased focus on disinfecting and sanitation, including the addition of hand sanitizer in high traffic areas and the regular sanitizing of Santa and his suit; Santa will also undergo a temperature check at the beginning of his shift.

While the children won’t get to sit on Santa’s lap, they “will still have the opportunity to engage in conversation and a magical experience with Santa, while maintaining physical distance.” To make a reservation, go here. The announcement by Simon Properties follows the news that three other New Jersey malls, the Cherry Hill Mall, the Moorestown Mall, and the Cumberland Mall will be handling Santa visits through plexiglass or via Zoom.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.