GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – We are only weeks away from Christmas day and many people are wondering how the pandemic will impact this holiday season.
One of the bigger questions is: Where is Santa this year? We searched around and discovered that he’s not in quarantine. In fact, he’s all over the Upstate still visiting with children and hearing their wishes for the holiday season.
Frank Hayes, who will be Santa at Hidden Pasture Farm this year, has heard the wishes of children for the last 50 years. Hayes is one of the most sought after Santas in the Upstate, but he was worried about his role this holiday season.
“I really didn’t think I’d work when it first started back in March. A few places that I did work had canceled and I said ‘well my year is going to be pretty bad’ and now I’m covered up,” Hayes said.
The CDC has warned that the hard choice to stay apart from friends, family and gatherings during the holidays can allow for many more years to spend with your loved ones.
The pandemic hasn’t stopped Santa from spreading joy.
“This year it’s the joy, love and watching kids smile. It feels like people got rusty from sitting in the house all summer and they’re trying to shake it off, even though COVID-19 is still running pretty rampant,” Santa Claus for Santa’s Sleigh Rides, said.
The Cabela’s store located in Greenville is hosting a Santa’s wonderland, but it’s probably no surprise that things look quite different this year.
“We have Santa wearing a face shield and he has a Plexiglass shield, which prevents children from sitting in his lap this year. We are cleaning in between every single appearance that we have,” Rebekah Welborn, Marketing and Events Coordinator for Cabela’s of Greenville, said.
Even though staff put these precautions in place to protect families from covid-19, seeing Santa from a distance may not be enough for small children. Welborn said children who want to tell to Santa their wishes can still do so, but must talk behind the plexiglass shield, or they have the option to mail a letter.
Many Santa’s workshop event coordinators in the area said they had to fork up extra cash to buy the materials they needed to ensure they met the CDC’s holiday guidelines.
According to Santa Claus at Santa’s Sleigh Rides, he spent almost $1,000 buying new parts and materials to transform his “santamobile” into a COVID-19 proof sleigh.
“I put some beautiful green and white seats in the sleigh so we can just wipe them down every time someone gets off,” Santa Claus at Santa’s Sleigh Rides said.
After giving people rides in downtown Greenville for 6 years now, he says this year he’s making no exceptions when it comes to the safety of his passengers.
The Santas said they felt the community needed to experience a glimmer of joy after such a tough year and they plan to continue to meet with children throughout the holiday season.
Additional Santa Events:
Cookies With Santa and Mrs. Claus – Sun, Dec. 6th
Santa at Haywood Mall – Starting Nov. 20th
Yuletide Unicorn Christmas Festival with Santa Clause – Every Fri. – Sat – Hidden Pasture Unicorn Farm
Evening with Santa Hotdog Cookout Dec. 7th – 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
For more holiday events around the Upstate, click here.