While COVID-19 safety measures will make visiting Santa a different experience for children this year, there will still be plenty of opportunities to share their Christmas lists with the jolly old St. Nick in Central Pennsylvania.
Here's a list of some of Santa's appearances around the midstate. The list is by no means definitive. If Santa is visiting your town or event and you'd like it included on the list, send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Capital City Mall, Cumberland County
Capital City Mall is offering in person and virtual Santa visits by appointment only. The appointments allow for sanitization between guests.
"It's going to look a little bit different because it's going to be a touchless experience with Santa this year," said Justin Roth, spokesperson for the mall.
See the full safety precautions at Capital City Mall
Guests who visit Santa in person will have their temperatures taken upon arrival and they must wear masks. The guests can speak to Santa while wearing their masks. Then, when they sit down for a photo they will be given a choice to either keep the mask on or take it off for the picture. A sheet of plexiglass will separate Santa and the guests and no one will be able to sit on Santa's lap. Only one family is allowed to visit Santa at a time to help with social distancing.
"We had a lot of people who were disappointed that they missed out on the opportunity for the Easter Bunny back in April, so we really just wanted some sort of normalcy and keep that tradition going with Santa," said Roth.
For families who are not comfortable with visiting Santa in person, they can schedule a zoom meeting.
"A virtual zoom visit with Santa is just a normal visit. He'll ask what you want for Christmas this year," said Roth.
For more information on Santa's visit, you can visit the Capital City website here.
On Tuesdays, the mall is hosting Santa & Friends with a visit from Anna & Elsa Tuesday, Dec. 8th and Christmas Princesses Belle & Aurora on Tuesday, Dec. 15th.
The mall is also hosting Family Pet Photos with Santa. There are two chances to bring in pets: Dec. 7th and 14th.
Santa will be making regular appearances through Dec. 24, but reservations to visit are required.
Jolly old St. Nick will be available for contactless visits and photos from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. On Dec. 24, he'll be in place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Masks are required for all shoppers, and other COVID-19 measures will be in place throughout the mall.
Go here for more information and to make a reservation.
York Galleria Mall, York County
In person visits with Santa will be available, but you will have to reserve a special time to see him. These visits will be contactless, and hand sanitizing stations will also be available.
Click here for hours and to make a reservation.
Bass Pro Shops in Harrisburg will serve as Santa's headquarters at the Harrisburg Mall through Dec. 24.
The contactless visit with Santa includes a comprehensive approach to help ensure everyone’s safety throughout the event.
Key elements include:
- Free Digital Reservations: Advance digital reservations are required for all guests and can be made online. Spots are limited to allow appropriate physical distancing and additional cleaning.
- Temperature Screening: All families and team members will complete temperature screening with a non-contact thermometer prior to entering Santa’s Wonderland.
- Magic Santa Shield: An innovative, glare-free clear protective barrier will be in place between Santa and families at all times to allow for a contactless experience. The shield is cleaned and sanitized between each visit.
- Physical Distancing: Families will standby in a designated area away from other shoppers with fun winter wonderland-themed floor decals and signage to ensure a safe distance.
- Santa’s Sanitation Squad: Santa’s team of elves will clean all surfaces between each visit and frequently ensure all safety measures are being implemented correctly.
- Face coverings: All team members throughout the store are required to wear face coverings. Customer requirements vary by location based on local public health guidelines.
To learn more, and make a reservation, visit www.basspro.com/santa
Chambersburg Mall, Franklin County
The traditional, in-person visit with Santa is off the table in 2020, but you and your family can arrange a personal visit with the jolly old elf over the computer, phone, or tablet through Dec. 24.
Go here to learn more.
Lebanon Valley Mall, Lebanon
Sadly, there will be no visits with Santa this year, out of COVID-19 safety concerns. The mall will have three backdrops set up throughout the mall, where families can pose for a holiday portrait -- a farmhouse country tree interior, a red and green fireplace with a green chair, and an outside backdrop with snow and a red barn.
Amusement Parks and Light Shows
Dutch Wonderland Holiday Lights, Lancaster
The Lancaster County amusement park's drive-thru holiday lights attraction will give kids to chance to share their Christmas wishes and take photos from a safe distance nightly through December 23, when he departs to make final preparations for the big day, the park said.
Hersheypark Christmas Candylane, Dauphin County
Santa and his reindeer will be visiting the amusement park's yearly Christmas light spectacular, but he won't be available for personal visits this year.
Visitors can still get an up-close look at your favorite reindeer, including Rudolph, at Santa’s Reindeer Stables -- complete with newly expanded viewing platform.
Go here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Christmas Magic at Rocky Ridge, York County
This year's event will be held outdoors as a walk-through light display only. There will be no buildings open to the public with the exception of restrooms. That means there will be no Santa Claus, train displays, Parks Volunteer Food Stand, live entertainment, or Pet Night.
The annual tree-lighting ceremony, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5, will be a virtual event live-streamed on Facebook beginning at 5 p.m., organizers said.
After the ceremony, Santa will be available for drive-thru visits from 5:30-7 p.m. in the parking lot next to Chocolatetown Square.
Guests may enter in their vehicles from Cocoa Avenue onto Caracas Avenue and proceed in the queue to wave to Santa. Children may hand their letters to Santa to Downtown Hershey Association volunteers and receive a special candy treat, donated by The Hershey Company.
Vehicles will then exit the parking lot on Caracas Avenue, closest to First United Methodist Church. Santa’s Drive-Thru will also feature festive pre-recorded holiday music, organizers say.
Santa's House, Ephrata, Lancaster County
Santa will be making appearances at the Ephrata Train Station and Visitor's Center on 16 E. Main Street from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Dec. 4, 11, and 18 and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 5, 12, and 19.
The jolly old elf will be sitting behind plexiglass for contact-free visits. Masks and social distancing will be required.
Children may also drop letters to Santa in a mailbox any time from Dec. 4 through Dec. 19.
For more information, visit ephratachristmas.weebly.com/santa
Kringle Caravan, Lancaster
On Dec. 4 and Dec. 5, the Lancaster Bureau of Fire will escort Santa Claus around the city, making stops in various downtown neighborhoods and businesses from 2-7 p.m. on Friday and from 9 a.m. to noon and 2-5 p.m. on Saturday.
Residents are invited to greet Santa from their own porches, yards, or sidewalks as he rolls through the city. Masks and social distancing guidelines will be in place.
Visit visitlancastercity.com/city-events for more information.
Christmas in the Park, Lititz, Lancaster County
Santa will be greeting visitors from the band shell in Lititz Springs Park on Dec. 4, 5, and 6, beginning at 6:30 p.m. each night. The event is free, but pre-registration is required. Guests will be limited to 200 each night, and masks and social distancing measures will be in place.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be handing out candy canes on Saturday morning as part of the Lititz Fire Department's Santa ride, which will take place between 9 a.m. and noon on Saturday, Dec. 5.
Children can drop off letters to Santa through Dec. 18 and the Welcome Center.
For more information or to pre-register to visit Santa, go to lititzspringspark.org.
Jingle Bell Drive, Elizabethtown, Lancaster County
The Jingle Bell Drive, a "reverse holiday parade," will be held from 4-6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Elizabethtown Fairgrounds and the Elizabethtown BIC Church parking lot.
Everyone will stay in their vehicle and travel through the area at 5 mph or less to view holiday-themed floats and Christmas displays. Visitors are encouraged to decorate their vehicles. The first 1,000 visitors will receive goodie bags, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand at the end of the "reverse parade" to greet children from a safe distance as they drop off their Christmas lists.
The "reverse parade" entrance will be the fairgrounds and the exit at the church. There will be fire police to assist in entering and exiting.
Go here for more information.
Santa in Christiana, Lancaster County
Santa will be riding around town from 6-8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 12. The Christiana Lions Club will be accepting food donations for the Octorara Area Food Cupboard.
Some suggested items are:
Canned Fruit, Oatmeal, Canned Pasta Sauce, Canned Vegetables, Peanut Butter, Boxed Pasta and Rice Sides, Boxed Potatoes, Canned Chicken/Tuna, Meaty Soups Like Dinty Moore Beef Stew, Saurkraut, Baked Beans, Canned Pasta Meals Like Spaghettios.
Food items can be brought out to the sleigh and fire trucks as Santa drives down your street.
For more information, visit http://www.localendar.com/public/christianaboro
Update: Hanover announced the event has been cancelled. A portion of the statement from organizers on Nov. 21:
It is with heavy hearts that we share with the local community that we will be cancelling all in-person Santa Claus visits this year at Hanover’s Santa Cabin. Since the beginning of our planning we understood that in order to have a safe season we would need to work closely with the local healthcare systems, UPMC Hanover and Wellspan Health along with the Borough of Hanover’s emergency management team to ensure our community COVID case rates were low in order to open up the Cabin for visits, even with safety measures in place. At this time, the local cases remain at an unsafe level to invite people to visit.