The pandemic has inspired people to be creative in how they interact with each other, and the same is true for the jolly man up north.
And while provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Santa Claus is “probably” immune to COVID-19, it’s not stopping him from observing all provincial health orders when conducting his annual traditions leading up to his busiest day of the year.
When Santa is not visiting with children from behind Plexiglas at Semiahmoo Shopping Centre, he’s offering one-on-one virtual visits with children all over the world.
“I enjoy it,” said Santa, who spends his summers in White Rock under the alias of Allan Johnson.
“Some of them haven’t been able to go to school because of COVID. I try to cheer them up by saying well, now with this technology, Santa can talk directly to you from the North Pole.”
Santa said a highlight of his job is interacting with the children, but sometimes, he said, he’s asked tough questions.
“They know the stories of Santa Claus coming down the chimney. I’ve had them ask, ‘Well, Santa, we don’t have a fireplace in our house.’
“So then I say, ‘If you don’t have a fireplace it doesn’t matter because Santa knows where the secret passage is. Every house has a secret passage.’”
The question most frequently asked, he added, is how Mrs. Claus and Rudolph are doing.
“I give them a story about how Rudolph is being mischievous,” Santa said, adding that Rudolph requested that carrots left out for him on Christmas Eve be dipped in chocolate.
“I tell them, ‘No, Rudolph, you can’t do that because you would get too fat and then you wouldn’t be able to fly and pull the sleigh.’”
The service allows parents to include names and ages of the children who are participating, which makes the experience a bit more personal, he added.
Mrs. Claus, who also spends her summers in White Rock, under the alias Cheryl Johnson, said while the service is offered locally, it’s been finding success internationally.
Last weekend, for example, Santa paid a virtual visit to children in New York.
Parents can book a 10-minute video chat time slot with Santa for $25 at https://socasanta.as.me/schedule.php
More information about the service, which is not associated with Semiahmoo Shopping Centre, can be found at https://www.facebook.com/therealsocasanta/