Coronavirus will keep Santa Claus away from Macy’s flagship store in NYC

Coronavirus will keep Santa Claus away from Macy’s flagship store

NEW YORK — You’d better watch out, and you’d better not cry, but Santa Claus is not coming to town this year.

Macy’s announced Thursday that Kris Kringle will not be greeting children at its flagship store in New York City because of the coronavirus, breaking a holiday tradition that began in 1861, WCBS reported. Santa Claus also will skip his annual store visits in Chicago and San Francisco.

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Instead of meeting Santa in person, Macy’s Santaland will be a virtual experience, the company said in a news release. It will run from Nov. 27 -- the day after Thanksgiving -- until Christmas Eve. The in-store experience will be available through macys.com/Santaland.

“At Macy’s, the safety of our customers and colleagues is paramount,” Susan Tercero, Macy’s vice president of branded entertainment, said in the news release. “To replicate the magical experience of visiting Macy’s Santaland for children and their families, we will shift to a virtual engagement this year. For many, visiting Santa at Macy’s has become a long-standing highlight of the holiday season. Macy’s is delighted to have found a way to ensure even more families can enjoy this treasured experience safely during this festive time of the year.”

In the virtual Santaland, families will be able to play games, receive a virtual tour of Santa’s workshop and take a selfie with Santa.

While Santa will not be available in the store for children, one tradition will remain: the jolly old man will still appear at the end of the televised Thanksgiving Day parade in Manhattan, Macy’s said.

Santa Claus and Macy’s have gone hand-in-hand for years during the Christmas season and was immortalized in the 1947 film, “Miracle on 34th Street,” where a girl discovers the real Santa inside the store.

More than 250,000 people come to see Santa at Macy’s in New York each year, the company said. This year, that would make it difficult to create a safe environment during this year’s pandemic. The floor where Santa is housed in Manhattan is traditionally a tight maze of lines that pack people tightly together. While children have been enchanted with the elves, toy trains and Christmas trees while waiting for their moment with Santa, company officials said the pandemic made that impossible this year.

The company said the Santaland website will highlight familiar family favorites from Macy’s Center City in Philadelphia, including a Christmas light show and Dickens' Village. A special version of the Macy’s Christmas Light Show will also be shown online and take visitors through popular Christmas stories such as “Frosty the Snowman” and “The Nutcracker.”

“Moving to a virtual engagement will safely bring the magic of Santa Claus to children of all ages this year,” Macy’s said in a statement to The Associated Press.