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Warrenville Photographer Sets Up Backyard Venue For Socially-Distanced Visits With Santa

WARRENVILLE, Ill. (CBS) -- Pictures with Santa can be challenging in the age of social distancing – but from shopping malls to private photographers, Santa's helpers are finding ways to make it work all over the Chicago area.

CBS 2's Tim McNicholas on Wednesday showed us some holiday creativity.

Not even Santa Claus is immune to coronavirus. So before the Wilson sisters met Old St. Nick, they sanitized – because they don't want the big man sick on his big day.

The girls thought they were out to mail a letter, but they kept walking to find none other than Santa himself. They got a peek at Santa's toys, and then they even got a photo op.

It all unfolded in the Warrenville backyard of photographer Alicia Johnson, owner of Alicia's Photography.

"We get preorders for Santa photos in March and April," Johnson said. "We thought, how are going to make this work for them?"

Alicia's daughter, Delaney, helped come up with the idea to bring Santa into their backyard.

"I usually cry. I mean, even when we were doing it in our studio, I would cry," Johnson said. "I just think it's so sweet."

Her husband built a shed for Santa earlier this year, and he wipes it down after every visit. But first, the kids get to talk to Santa from a distance – and as usual, he asks them what they want in their stockings or under the tree.

The aforementioned Wilson sisters wanted Barbie dolls.

Johnson keeps snapping photos the whole way, even as Santa informs the girls they made the "nice" list.

Santa's other helpers are also getting creative. A company called Cherry Hill is still providing the mall Santa experience -- but even St. Nick needs a face covering. You can expect similar scenes at shopping malls around the area.

Meanwhile, Santa tells us he has little offices like the one in Warrenville all over the world. But he has been spending so much time working in DuPage County rather than the North Pole that he has even developed a Chicago accent.

"I was fortunate enough to have Alicia and Dan build this one for me here in the Chicago area," Santa said, pronouncing "this" a "dis."

Old St. Nick is getting plenty of letters. Duncan, 8, said his number-one Christmas wish is to end the coronavirus.

"Get rid of the coronavirus?" Santa said. "Well, we're working on it."

Unfortunately, Santa said for now, you've got to stick with the masks and the social distancing. Maybe you can meet him up close again next year.

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