Monday, November 29, 2021

The Return


He’s back. 

Santa, that is. It appears that the tradition of a visit with Santa is one of those “back to normal” experiences that some folks have been craving. If you are one of those folks, your opportunities in Columbia/HoCo are looking good.

The gold standard for many is a trip to see Santa in residence at The Mall in Columbia. From Columbia Patch:

Visit Santa at Center Court on the lower level of The Mall in Columbia now through Dec. 24. Reservations are encouraged and can be made here

There are also specific dates and times to bring your “special fur friends” to see Santa. Additionally, on December 5th and 12th the Mall will be hosting Santa Cares Day to provide a Sensory Friendly experience for special needs guests.

You have to click through several screens to find out what COVID precautions are in place. It looks like sitting on Santa’s lap is now an acceptable thing again. Since I’m not so sure how safe we all are right now, especially when it comes to children under five, I’m finding the listed precautions to be more like required legalese and less like a serious commitment to the prevention of spreading a still-active disease. Take a look for yourself before you book.

If you would prefer that Santa come to you, Blossoms of Hope is teaming up with Zaching Against Cancer to bring Santa right to your door. The Santa Project is scheduling visits for the following dates: December 4 & 5, 2021; December 11 & 12, 2021; December 18 & 19, 2021. From their website:

The Santa Project features Santa and his elves making personal visits to children and their families during the Christmas season. This initiative, created during the COVID pandemic, was so successful in its first year that more than 2,300 children were able to greet Santa and his elves at their homes. The Santa Project has now become a regular event for Blossoms of Hope.

I don’t see any COVID information on their site or in the registration process. I will reach out to them to see what their policies are. It’s altogether possible that they send the information after booking the appointment. It seems unlikely to me that groups like Blossoms of Hope and Zaching Against Cancer, both attuned to the needs of cancer patients and their families, wouldn’t be taking any precautions at all.

Update from The Santa Project:

The Santa Project will be taking proper precautions to ensure all visits are COVID safe. All visits will be outside, rain or shine. 

Most Santa teams will not be wearing masks. If you prefer that they wear a mask, let the elf know and they will accommodate your request.

So you can go see Santa or Santa can come to you. So far, so good. The third choice is a new and different take on the Santa experience. You can hang with the jolly man in red or even be a Santa yourself.

New to the Columbia/HoCo is Saunter Claus. 

The first ever Saunter Claus event is happening Saturday, December 4th, and you're invited to dress up, participate and share the festivities as we saunter around Downtown Columbia & Merriweather District.

We're all about merriment, spreading joy and, well, being fabulous!

This is not the traditional photo op for the little ones. This is as close to an actual “happening” that Columbia has experienced in years, if ever. Saunter Claus, based loosely on DC’s Santarchy, is the brainchild of two Columbia Pioneers. 

Update: the event planners want to make sure that people understand that is a COSTUME CENTRIC event. It's not a "show up with a Santa hat but your regular clothes” event. It’s a full-on, participate 100 per cent activity. Check out their website for more information.

I wish them much success.

Even if you have no intention of sauntering around downtown in costume, please go take a look at their website to appreciate the creativity and thought that went into this. I find it to be quite delightful. The combination of zaniness and meticulous organizational details are pretty darned impressive.* Who knows? You might be inspired.

You can follow @saunterclaus on Twitter, and sign up for their newsletter through their website.


Completely unrelated to Santa: local podcast Elevate Maryland returns to live shows tonight at 6:30 pm in their new home at Busboys & Poets (Merriweather District.) Their guest: County Council Member Opel Jones. 

*For as thorough as their plans are, I don’t see any COVID precautions listed. Will reach out to them. Update, as per organizers: 

  • We don't have any COVID precautions. 
  • It's outside, inside, outside, inside.
  • People can choose their own engagement and participation based on that. 

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