EVERETT, Wash. — From mask-wearing, to hand sanitizer, to social distancing, Santa Claus is still making sure to spread holiday cheer in 2020 while also preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Everett Mall started Santa pictures this week.
Little Rowynn put on a brave face and sat for a picture with Santa, her older brother Hudson was too nervous for it this year.
But Rowynn's picture with Santa will look different than any of her previous year's.
At the Everett Mall, Santa sits in a sleigh, 6 feet from kids, and always wears a mask.
"We felt very comfortable with the new Santa set, meaning the sleigh, the distancing, the facial covering requirements, the reservation requirements that this works still, that this is still safe, that it was still responsible,” said Ray Chavez, general manager of the Everett Mall.
In 2020, Santa is available by appointment only.
It's the case at Everett Mall, and it's also the case for EverettSanta.com.
"It was something that we didn't think was going to be possible," said Kylie Hawkins, owner of Everett Santa. "I've been doing this with my family for 20 years, and in the end it's all about the community and the kids.”
To get a picture with Santa, you must make an appointment online, arrive at EverettSanta.com’s studio on Evergreen Way, get your temperature checked, sanitize your hands and sit eight feet away from Santa during the visit.
Hawkins explained that kids sit in a section of the studio and Santa sits on the set behind them, then the photographer frames the pictures to feature both the kids and Santa.
“It’s a matter of fitting the puzzle pieces together, it’s been a little bit of a challenge trying to figure out how to go from servicing 12 families an hour down to four families an hour and how to do that safely,” Hawkins said.
COVID almost cost EverettSanta.com their decades long holiday tradition.
But Hawkins said, as a small business, not only could they not afford to skip out on the holiday season, but they also couldn't bring themselves to skip out on the memories they provide for local families.
"We're so personalized, we see kids on a smaller level, and their safety is number one to us. So, we just wanted to make sure that we did this for the kids so that they are really getting that magical experience especially with everything that's been taken away from them, you know, in the past year,” she said.
Chavez at the Everett Mall agreed.
"We couldn't imagine having a holiday season without Santa,” he said.