Santa Claus in town for annual visits with children

November 11, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HALFWAY - Carolers wrapped in fur and long coats serenaded a crowd wearing more weather-appropriate attire, including sandals, shorts and tank tops, as people waited for carriage rides on Friday night outside Valley Mall.

Inside, Hailey Bui and her family waited more than an hour for Santa Claus to arrive.

"I'm not waiting for this. Where is he?" asked Hailey, 4, as she clutched her mother's hand.

Hailey planned to ask Santa for Bratz dolls this year, said her mother, Shaunta Smith.

Santa spent Friday at the barbershop, getting his beard trimmed and hair cut so he would be ready for the big arrival, sources said.

Santa arrived in the mall's center court riding with Mrs. Claus on his Christmas Express train. He then got to work hearing children's Christmas wishes, while Mrs. Claus made her way through the crowd having her picture taken with children.


Jennifer Seal stood in line holding her 6-week-old daughter, Madison, who wore a red-and-white dress for her first picture with Santa. Madison's older sister, Morgan, 2, planned to ask Santa for candy this Christmas.

When Hailey finally got to see Santa, she jumped into his lap and flashed a big smile for pictures. But her younger sister, 16-month-old Aaliyah Feltner, ran from Santa in tears.

Valley Mall has celebrated Santa's arrival every year since opening in 1974, mall spokeswoman Julie Rohm said.

About 500 people were expected, and there was enough hot chocolate, oranges and popcorn on hand for all of them, Rohm said.

This year, Santa's arrival had an old-time theme, complete with the traditional gift of oranges. The train is a nod to the area's heritage, Rohm said.

If you go

What: Santa Claus at Valley Mall

Where: Center Court at the mall

When: Santa will be available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. through Dec. 24. Mrs. Claus will be on hand Saturday mornings from 8:30 to 9 a.m. for children's story time in December.

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