This story was updated on Nov. 16 to note a change in available dates for Santa visits.
Kids may be looking at some screen time with Santa Claus this holiday season.
To maintain coronavirus safety precautions, Chattanooga's Northgate and Hamilton Place shopping malls are offering the option of online interactions with St. Nick. In-person visits will still be available with a "merry and masked Santa," according to mall websites.
Matt Windt, chief marketing officer for New Jersey-based Cherry Hill Programs, which runs the Santa setup at both malls, confirms that guests will notice "a number of changes throughout their in-person visit with Santa — all designed to support the health and well-being of guests, staff and Santa."
The aim is to still provide children a "magical visit with Santa" to share their wish lists, while still maintaining social distancing and adhering to mask mandates. "Walk-up visits will be available as space allows throughout the day, but reservations are strongly encouraged," he says.
Windt says they anticipate guests will notice "much shorter wait times as a result."
Appointments for in-person visits are available Nov. 27 through Dec. 24.
The virtual option involves a bit of holiday magic that can create a family photo with Santa, pet photo with Santa, live video call, video story time and a holiday traditions gift box. Packages start at $99. Individual selections start at $9.99.
Find a link to make reservations at www.hamiltonplace.com/content/holiday and www.visitnorthgatemall.com/content/santa#Santa-Top.
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, also is offering free virtual Santa visits Nov. 30-Dec. 15. The video calls connect Santa from his North Pole office to families in their homes. Reservations will be accepted starting at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 9. Register at www.MyPigeonForge.com/Santa.
Email Lisa Denton at firstname.lastname@example.org.