Santa Claus will be arriving at Westfarms on Nov 27, and will follow COVID-19 protocols as he poses for socially-distanced photos with children.
By Ronni Newton
The holiday season is going to be a bit different at Westfarms this year, but the shopping center that spans the West Hartford and Farmington town lines is still offering a way for kids to safely visit Santa Claus, and has launched several campaigns to encourage support of the local community and its employees.
“Westfarms … has made its holiday list, and has checked it twice, ensuring it is focused on gratitude for customers and employees, and help for communities in need this season,” spokesperson Amanda Sirica said in an announcement.
Santa Claus generally arrives at Westfarms in early November and poses with children after they enjoy the Santa’s Flight Academy experience. Although he’s arriving a bit late this year – the pandemic has delayed so many things – he will arrive on Nov. 27 and remain in his place of honor in Center Court through Dec. 24.
Santa will be seated in his sleigh and will set a good example for all by wearing his mask properly. He will be available to pose with guests for physically-distanced photos.
According to Westfarms, the photo sessions are available by reservation only and a pre-paid photo package, which is required, can be obtained at www.shopwestfarms.com.
The snowfall and high-touch interactive elements of Santa’s Flight Academy have been temporarily removed for this holiday season.
Westfarms has also launched a #CommunityFirst campaign designed to thank customers who shop there this holiday season and support the mall’s roughly 2,000 year round retail workers.
As part of the #CommunityFirst campaign, for the first time in several years Westfarms will be closed for the entirety of Thanksgiving Day – which has come to be known as “gray Thursday” – allowing everyone to celebrate the holiday with their families.
Westfarms is encouraging support of those in need, and this year is partnering with Foodshare through the “Gift of Giving” program to combat food insecurity in the region, which has skyrocketed amid the coronavirus pandemic. Those who make a $50 donation will receive a $50 Westfarms retailer gift card in exchange, while supplies last. Donations must be made by Thanksgiving, and details are available on the website.
Westfarms has also launched a “Community First Spotlight” and will be making donations of $1,000 each week on behalf of local employees who have shown a passion for giving back. Digital screens throughout the mall will feature the employee who has been chosen for each week’s spotlight, and they are also featured on the Westfarms website.
To support its #BuyNearby campaign and to thank customers for their support, Westfarms will be offering surprise gift cards giveaways and pay-it-forward promotions via social media throughout the month of December. Follow Westfarms on Facebook and Instagram for those promotions.
Westfarms wants its customers to #ShopYourWay, and is emphasizing safety – offering expanded holiday hours to spread out the crowds as well as curbside pickup at each main entrance for those who would like to support local retailers but are more comfortable with a contactless experience.
“The health and safety of our customers is our first priority as we continue to follow all laws, state mandates, and CDC guidelines related to the pandemic. Mall wide safety guidelines remain in effect at Westfarms for our shoppers and employees to adhere to. Efforts include requiring mask usage, regularly cleaning and disinfecting, offering hand sanitizer, one-way entrances/exits and hallways, using signage to help with social distancing, turning off drinking fountains, resetting furniture, and other ongoing efforts,” Westfarms stated in an announcement.
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