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Santa to skip Macy’s this year in break with 159-year tradition

There will be no miracle on 34th Street this year – at least not at Macy’s Herald Square flagship in New York.

The department store giant said that Santa will not be doing his annual meet-and-greet with kids at the store this holiday season amid concerns about COVID-19, ending a holiday tradition that started in 1861. Instead, Macy’s is offering a virtual interactive experience. (Santa will also not be making his annual appearance at Macy’s Chicago or San Francisco stores. He will, however, still appear at the end of Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade.)

“At Macy’s, the safety of our customers and colleagues is paramount,” said Susan Tercero, Macy’s VP of branded entertainment. “To replicate the magical experience of visiting Macy’s Santaland for children and their families, we will shift to a virtual engagement this year.”

The virtual experience, called Santaland at Home, will be available online from November 27-December 24. It will begin with a greeting from Santaland elves at the North Pole-bound train station. The elves will lead the way through Santa’s village and workshop, stopping to see the sights and allowing time for kids to play interactive games.

At the end of the journey, kids will meet Santa through an interactive video and can share their holiday wish list and take a selfie with Santa that will be downloadable.

Up to three children can take part in the customized experience at one time, Macy’s said. Also, an adult must first provide the “appropriate permissions” to activate the program, including approving access to the hardware for the interactive elements and selecting the preferred diversity experience.

Macy’s did it best to put a positive spin on the news, which is sure to disappoint the nearly quarter of a million people who typically visit Santa at the Herald Square store each year. 

“For many, visiting Santa at Macy’s has become a long-standing highlight of the holiday season,” Tercero said. “Macy’s is delighted to have found a way to ensure even more families can enjoy this treasured experience safely during this festive time of the year.”

Macy’s is also making two of its other signature holiday experience available for the first time virtually. The Macy’s Santaland website will highlight interpretations of holiday favorites from Macy’s Center City in Philadelphia, including Dickens’ Village and the Christmas Light Show. Dickens’ Village will take guests through select animated displays telling the story of the Charles Dickens’ classic "A Christmas Carol." A special version of the spectacular Macy’s Christmas Light Show will also be featured online as it takes viewers on a light-filled festive journey through popular Christmas stories.

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