As COVID-19 changes the Santa Claus experience in 2020, here’s how Mr. Kringle is keeping the magic alive in Northeast Ohio

How will children visit with Santa this year?

As COVID-19 changes the Santa Claus experience in 2020, here’s how Mr. Kringle is keeping the magic

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -Hardly anything about 2020 is as we’d hoped, and that includes Christmas traditions like children’s visits with Santa Claus.

With social distancing, and stay at home advisories in place, what’s to become of this holiday tradition in 2020?

“We’ve decided to do some things virtually as well as in our cars just to stay safe. I’m pregnant with my second and due in January so I’m considered high risk,” said Kristina Cullis.

Families like the Cullis’s are hoping to keep the magic alive for their 3-year-old daughter, Gabrielle.

“Christmas is a special time, so we still want to try and do some of those activities and we’re trying to balance them both, have fun for her and also keeping safe,” said Ben Cullis.

Places like the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo are still offering in-person visits with Santa at their Wolf Lodge, complete with strict social distancing. If you opt for the drive through Wild Winter Lights experience, you’ll catch a glance of him in person too.

The Hilton downtown is once again offering up their decked out Mr. Kringle suite for overnight visits…and Breakfast with Santa dates, for an in person experience. The big guy will appear at talk to each child at a safe distance.

If you’re looking for a more traditional experience of seeing Santa while you shop, Cabela’s has Santa behind plexiglass this year.

And malls like Great Northern, Beachwood Place, South Park and Great Lakes are still offering in person, contactless visits with Santa by appointment, where kids are promised a magical visit and a chance to share their lists. Everyone will be masked. Virtual visits are also available through Create Holiday Magic.

If you’re more comfortable avoiding any kind of in person interaction with Santa or any of his helpers, there are plenty of virtual visits being offered this year, like Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s Winterfest.

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“I am not going to disappoint,” said told me during a Zoom interview.

During our virtual visit Santa himself wanted to reassure all the children out there that no matter how they connect with him, he can still see them before Christmas and he’s still coming.

“There’s an opportunity coming up through Winterfest they can zoom me and talk to me. I have a couple days on my schedule to do nothing but talk to the children of Cleveland,” he said.

While he’ll be masked in person, and expects children to be as well, doesn’t want kids to worry about him and says he’s immune to COVID 19.

“Now, my helpers, that’s a different story. My helpers who go to the malls go on the street corners, they can get sick. Because they’re not me. So those opportunities may not be there this year,” he said.

Santa also says there are some changes at the north pole this year.

“No more teddy bears for this year because teddy bears cannot be washed or touched by so many people. And toys that don’t have a full four sided box. Not toys that have exposure on one side where people, strangers can touch them,” he said.

He assures me toys will be quarantined for 21 days before they’re delivered.

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