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Santa will remain behind the window to stay COVID safe at this year's Rotary Lights

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Santa behind the glass again

One-year-old Meadow Hoy and her mother, Krysten Hoy visit with Santa at Rotary Lights in Riverside Park in 2020. Kids and families will again need to interact with Santa through a window and microphone this year due to the pandemic.

Santa Claus will be in attendance at the Rotary Lights again this year, but because of the pandemic, kids and families will only be able to talk to him behind through a microphone while he remains safe behind the window of his house.

This is the second year in a row that Santa will stay inside and not have children on his lap to share their wish lists with him because of COVID-19, though officials hope they’ll return to normal next year.

Rotary Lights president Pat Stephens said that Santa’s “helpers” were polled to see what they were comfortable with heading into the holiday season, saying results were “split.”

Stephens, Pat


“I think our group consensus was that we should use the window one more time so that parents can feel more comfortable with their kids. We thought the lap arrangement might make some uncomfortable,” Stephens said.

Like last year, visitors will be able to walk up to a window where they can see and interact with Santa through a window, and be able to speak to him through a microphone. He’ll also be able to send treats down a chute to those outside, limiting the contact.

The gift shop will reopen this year inside Santa’s house, but there will not be a train display like in previous years, Stephens said.

It’s largely the only remaining protocol in place at the holiday lighting display this year, a community event that is celebrating its 27th year. Officials were excited that despite the COVID-19 adaptations the tradition of visiting Santa in the park could continue another year.

“I think last year we learned that the project really did a nice job of lifting everyone’s spirit,” Stephens said.

“We had a tremendous turnout in the park last year almost every night. People were just looking for something to do, we wanted a return to normalcy,” he said. “And I think this year will be pretty much the same.”

Santa will be in the park every night beginning opening night of Nov. 26 through Dec. 23 from 5 to 8 p.m., or until he talks to the last child in line.


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