(CW44 News At 10) - Growing up, we knew exactly where to find Santa. The nearest mall was always decorated with the red nosed reindeer and loads of fluffy pretend snow. But If you're stuck at home amid another fast-spreading Covid-19 variant, you know those live appearances by Saint Nick look a little different.
Now, you can reserve an appointment with Santa Claus one-on-one. Cut to Santa via zoom.
"Virtual visits for Santa really took off last year during Covid when people were not venturing out and all of the stores were not having a live in person Santa for safety reasons obviously," said Randy Maxey, a Santa Portrayer in the Tampa Bay area.
But different doesn't necessarily mean any less of the experience.
"The advantage is, you can sit in the comfort of your own home, you can dress and matching PJs if you'd like and just have a one-on-one visit with Santa without any other interruptions," said Maxey. "When Santa pops up on the screen the eyeballs open and the jaws drop and it's just a magical moment."
For a second year straight, Santa portrayers like Maxey are offering the option of a one-on-one visit with Santa Claus.
"Hey, what's your favorite cartoon show," asks Santa to one of his virtual visitors.
"Blippi," shouted Hendrix Arizpe from the other end of the call.
"The other advantage is, they get to spend more time with Santa. I mean let's be frank, when you're at the mall you've got like 15,20, 30 seconds, you know, people are snapping photos and then you have to move onto the next family. For me as a Santa portrayer that takes the fun out of it," said Maxey.
Although virtual visits weren't meant to last forever, some still prefer it.
"I don't know that they're at the same level that they were pre-Covid but virtual visits I think are here to stay," said Maxey.
But if you're going to see Santa via video chat, know that your set up can make or break that experience.
"A quality web camera. The audio and video quality on the phone is not quite where it should be for a quality visit," he explained.
If you'd like to reserve a one-on-one visit with Santa, click here for more info.
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