DTSB ready to celebrate the holidays with Santa visits
SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- While many kids across the nation won’t be able to take their anticipated picture with Santa in-person this year, you’ll still be able to stop by Downtown South Bend for a Saint Nick visitation.
The demand for Santa Clauses is at an all-time high, with experts saying the big guy in the red hat and suit, is afraid of COVID-19 exposure among kids who aren’t vaccinated yet. Officials with “Hire Santa,” a professional Santa Claus agency, told The Wall Street Journal, they’ve so far seen a 121% increase in requests for Santa’s compared to 2020, which is when the nation experienced tons of canceled in-person events. They say they have 15% fewer Santa professionals to head out in the sleigh, and listen to children’s top items on their wish list.
However, Downtown South Bend didn’t cancel Santa visits last year, they just upped safety protocols and even offered other alternatives to make sure kids and families were safe during their visitations at the Gridiron, and this year is no different. DTSB has Saint Nick lined up and ready to go!
“We are excited getting into the holiday spirit! Right behind me you see this red house, that’s Santa’s house! And he’s going to be coming here arriving to down town on December 3rd the night of our tree lighting ceremony. You can also see behind me our tree is going up right now so that’s very exciting and getting into the spirit of things here,” DTSB Senior Marketing Director of Events Kylie Carter said.
While some safety precautions that were put in place last year have been lifted, many are still in place. One thing that’s changing is masks will no longer be required while waiting in the lines, but you and your kids are recommended to wear one, especially if you aren’t vaccinated against the coronavirus. There will be a plexiglass shield to block Santa from the kids so that everyone can be protected, and so that Santa doesn’t need to wear a mask. This means no lap sitting or close contact, but kids can still get a picture and tell him what’s on their Christmas list!
Social distancing marks will be placed in line, and you can even register for a timed slot, just like a fast pass, so you don’t need to wait in a long, crowded line. Of course, hand sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the area, too.
“Luckily, we have been fortunate enough that Santa has found time to come here, and I think Santa feels comfortable because of the plexiglass situation that we have. I know even last year a lot of places would have sit on the lap situations and a lot of Santa’s were like ‘I don’t know’… so I think we provide a really comfortable environment for Santa to come,” Carter said.
A tree lighting ceremony will take place this year, the same day that Santa visits will begin on December 3. Last year they had to stamp a big limitation on guests; they usually rallied around 1,500 people for the ceremony, but that number was cut down to 150. However, this year, those restrictions are lifted!
For the first time “South Hole” will be presenting scenes from the Nutcracker, along with other activities and a band. Snow ball fights will also be back for families this year, which were canceled last year.
“It’s so fun because you hear people bringing their kids downtown to see Santa for over 10 years now and it’s a family tradition! You come and see the tree lighting ceremony, you come and you see Santa and every kid who gets to see Santa gets a sticker and gets to go around downtown and get free trinkets. It’s this whole process, it’s a memory making thing where kids they have fond memories of their downtown holiday happenings you know? So, I think that’s the best part. It’s really the memory making we get to do,” Carter.
The ceremony and Santa visits kick off at 5pm on Friday, December 3. Small Business Saturday also kicks off on November 28.
For a full list of holiday activities, days and times in DTSB, you can click here for all you need to know.