Sorry Virginia, there won’t be a Santa Claus this year.

For the first time in their history they will not be a Santa Claus at Macy’s department store this holiday season.  Santa Claus is been a fixture for children to enjoy for 159 years at the New York City department store, but due to COVID-19 the tradition won’t happen this year.

Instead of the usual visits with Santa, Macy’s will be creating a virtual experience this year instead. Macy’s will be offering a free online experience on its website at the end of November, where families can play games, get a virtual tour of Santa’s workshop and take a selfie with Santa.

“At Macy’s, the safety of our customers and colleagues is paramount,” said Susan Tercero, Macy’s vice president 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. For many, visiting Santa at Macy’s has become a long-standing highlight of the holiday season. 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.” Susan Tercero, Macy's vice president of Branded Entertainment, said in a press release.

 

More than a quarter of a million people come to see Santa at Macy’s New York flagship store each year, the company said, making it hard to create a safe environment during a pandemic. Macy’s Santaland at Home virtual experience will be available free to all beginning Friday, Nov. 27 through Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. You can get more information at macys.com/Santaland. 

Santa will still be making his annual appearance at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade this year which will also look quite different. In September, Macy's announced that it's shifting the event to a "television-only special presentation" this year, forgoing the traditional 2.5-mile New York City route and reducing the number of parade participants by 75%. And the 80 to 100 handlers that normally walk the balloons will be replaced by special vehicles.

Many malls will also make adjustments due to COVID-19 for their Santa experience. Some malls will completely forgo the traditional visit with Santa while others are making touchless and social distancing experiences available for children. Genesee Valley Center in Flint will still have Santa in center court starting December 3. There will be COVID-19 restrictions and adjustments in place however.