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LI Mall Has Change Of Heart Over Santa Display Following Social Media Backlash

Updated Sunday, Nov. 8 12:14 p.m.

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Roosevelt Field Mall has done an about-face over its new Christmas display for pictures with Santa after outrage spread on social media over the lack of Christmas cheer.

As 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria reported, word had spread on Facebook that some Simon malls, including Roosevelt Field, would not feature a traditional Christmas tree for Santa to sit next to during pictures.

Instead, Santa sits in what looks like a modern, white igloo or glacier.

Dorothy, of Wantagh, started a petition demanding that the big Christmas tree be returned.

"They're taking away our tradition," she said.

Ronnie, a shopper at the mall on Saturday, told D'Auria it was silly that the tree was eliminated because some thought it offensive. She said all the holidays should be celebrated fully.

"If it's Kwanzaa, if it's Christmas, if it's the Jewish holiday Hanukkah, it's fine with me," she said.

Simon released a statement regarding their Santa display at Roosevelt Field, saying the "cutting edge artistic design" was inspired by the arctic and "designed to illuminate every imagination."

The mall said the full "Glacier" experience features interactive stations while children wait to see Santa, as well as a simulation of the Aurora Borealis.

"The magic of the northern lights is brought to life through 'Aurora', the centerpiece digitized modern interpretation of a Christmas tree, as she performs the ballet of the borealis every thirty minutes," the mall said.

Following backlash from shoppers over the lack of a traditional Christmas tree, Simon announced one would be added to the display.

"Key elements are still being added to the Glacier experience at Roosevelt Field over the coming week -- and after hearing early customer feedback, one of those elements will be a traditional Christmas tree alongside the Glacier experience. Together, the mix of traditional and modern design will create a magical North Pole," the statement concluded.

A tree was back Sunday, WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported.

"It makes people happy to have a large tree," said Harold.

But the tree that has been installed is smaller than the one people are familiar with.

One man said the holidays have become too politically correct.

The Westchester Mall in White Plains also changed their more 'modern' Christmas display after complaints from shoppers.

"It's like taking away a child's imagination," Natalya Whitten, of White Plains, said. "It's taking away the fun of Christmas."

Simon Property President David Contis said the attempt to change the Christmas theme had nothing to do with making the season secular, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported.

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