NORTH POLE — This holiday season will look much different because of COVID-19, including visits to Santa. Many families won't be able to see him in person.
That's why Santa and Mrs. Claus are offering Utah kids a special way to meet them this year.
With the holiday season just about here, Santa's schedule is in full swing.
On Wednesday, Santa and Mrs. Claus attended a photo shoot in Eagle Mountain. This weekend, they'll be busy with appointments at Station Park in Farmington.
Though with COVID-19, they know not every child will be able to sit on Santa's lap.
"We're a little sad that we can't see as many of you in person this year," Santa said, during an interview outside the Makelle Jacobson Photography studio Wednesday.
The jolly couple came up with a creative way to how to reach the children who need to stay home-- by offering 10-minute Zoom sessions.
Six-year old Ava joined one of the sessions recently.
"Do you know where I'm calling from today?" Santa asked her. "The North Pole," Ava replied. "The North Pole-- that's right!" Santa exclaimed.
In another call, a little boy named Crew was shy to answer questions at first.
Santa broke out in song.
"Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer..." he sang. "Do you know that song?"
During the virtual visit, Santa gets to know each child and asks them about their Christmas Wish List.
"What would you like for Christmas miss Ava?" he asked. Ava replied: "Two stuffed penguins, not like 'stuffy' penguins."
And of course, Santa checks to make sure each boy and girl has been good this year.
But they also talk about lots of other things.
"Do you help your mom around the house?" Santa asked Ava. "I did clean my room yesterday!" She answered.
"My favorite Christmas movie is 'Mickey Mouse's Christmas,'" Crew told Santa, as he warmed up and chattered away.
The virtual visits have been a hit. Santa and Mrs. Claus talked about how the children seem to open up more, and it's not nearly as frightening for younger children who may otherwise have a negative experience visiting Santa.
"They're in their own environment and I think that makes a difference, because then they're just home," Mrs. Claus said.
The Christmas husband and wife record the Zoom calls and send the file to the parents, so they can keep the call and the kids can replay them.
Even though COVID-19 has changed a lot of things this year, Santa and Mrs. Claus described how they aren't letting a global pandemic get in the way of seeing each boy and girl.
"Children, I promise this year will not be any different for you as far as presents and gifts, and things like that" Santa said, adding,
"Because that doesn't slow us down at the North Pole at all."
And if anything, they indicated that they love the virtual one-on-one time, straight from their home in the North Pole, to any child's home in Utah.
Santa also does in-person visits at Station Park. Click here to make an appointment.