Hamilton Place mall is helping Santa Claus go high-tech this year.
Parents can sign up online to have the jolly old elf send three personalized text messages to their children before Christmas, and, if desired, another message on Christmas Day.
"Everybody has a cell phone," said Catharine Pangratz, marketing director for the mall. "Many of the children who come into the mall have their own cell phone. It was a natural kind of progression to incorporate this into our marketing plans."
Not only are the text messages available, but the mall also will help raise the anticipation level for children with a downloadable series of four videos from Santa in which he talks about how he and his minions are planning for the big day.
"It'll be fun for people to tune in and see those," Ms. Pangratz said.
The text messages, transferred by TextSanta.net through a secure server, may be sent either directly to the child or, if the child is not wired, to the parents.
The mall's Web site (www.HamiltonPlace.com) is also a place to go for a printable letter to Santa and pictures to color.
The cost to parents for the three text message passage is $5.49. The Christmas Day message is an additional 99 cents.
The messages are limited to 160 characters.
Parents can provide details such as their child's name and their pet's name from three message packages or customize their own message.
The text packages are available only through the mall's Web site and not by phone or at mall offices.
TextSanta.net will donate $1 for each child registered to receive the text messages to the March of Dimes.
Ms. Pangratz said that donation fits in well with the mall's participation in the Santa Feeds America program. Families or individuals who donate a nonperishable food item for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank at Mr. Claus's mall home will receive $2 off a family photo package with Santa.
"We wanted to incorporate helping others" in mall holiday plans, she said. "Across the country, people are not able to fill that (hunger) gap, so we wanted to be able to make a difference."