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COVID-19 May Make Santa Claus Wear Mask Or Sit Behind Plastic, But It Doesn't Diminish His Christmas Message

YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Santa Claus is coming to town, but there will be no sitting on his knee.

Booking a photo session with Santa this season won't be like Christmases past.

Saint Nick will be social distanced, maybe behind plastic, and, perhaps, only on a touchscreen, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported Friday.

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How does one make sense of Santa in a face mask?

Maybe put him in a place where toy-making dust is an issue.

It's all part of re-imagining the traditional Christmas photo-op at the Cross County Center in Yonkers.

"Santa is in his workshop this year, so he's building his toys while children sit on the other side of his workshop watching," the mall's Liz Pollack said.

It worked for 6-year-old Jeremiah Morillo, who went the Rudolph route for his Santa snapshot.


The big guy's traditional home at Cross County is a small Santa House at the mall's center court. This year, he has moved into an unoccupied retail space -- 8,000 square feet, complete with upgraded air filtration, frequent sanitizing, and plenty of space to socially distance.

"Just to keep that spirit alive as parents, we feel like we'll take the safety precautions as needed," parent Gregory Morillo said.

The mall also has a plastic sheet partition available for parents who want an extra safety measure.

For those who don't want to leave the house, there's many options out there to have screen time with Santa.

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Mitch Allen, the CEO of Hire Santa, said tech-savvy youngsters enjoy the virtual visit.

"Children are so connected to their devices these days, kids are picking it up and thinking it's very natural. 'Of course Santa is up to date on all the technology,'" Allen said.

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Back at the mall, a girl named Giuliana looked like a snow angel for her Christmas picture with Santa.

"Unfortunately, she missed out on her very Easter picture with the Easter Bunny, so it was really important to have her have those traditions we all grew up with," parent Kristin Cardone said.

And someday 4-year-old Zoe will have a story to tell about the Christmas she had to hide that pretty face behind a gingerbread mask.

If your children worry about Santa visiting during the pandemic, well, the big guy told Aiello he has been quarantining all year at the North Pole, and he's first in line for the vaccine.


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