Socially distant Santa Claus is coming to town

2020 will be remembered as the year that gatherings went virtual, and for Santa Claus it's no different.

MADISON, Wis. — From lap to laptop: Santa’s gone remote, but video calls take some extra magic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of holiday celebrations and made private visits potentially unsafe, but kids can now share their wish lists with Santa in a video call.

There are several services, but they could set you back anywhere from $10 to $750 for some time with old Saint Nick..

With virtual visits planned by parents in advance, Santa says he can actually make a deeper connection with children since in-person visits are typically very brief.

“I normally go to malls myself around the United States, like down in Georgia. I would see an average of a thousand kids and adults in one day. This transition is quite different and undetached,” said Santa.

The virtual Santa visits have also been a boom for children with special needs who struggle in busy settings like malls.

At Madison’s East and West Towne malls, Santa has been open since Thanksgiving.

He sits behind guests six feet apart to take pictures and guests can interact with him while sitting on a giant bench.

“So there is no glass and no glass, so what we are seeing is that the kids really love climbing up on the bench and most of the time they are sitting on their knees or facing Santa. That’s perfect, the spacing between was designed that the kids can sit on that bench and still feel like they can have a good conversation with that guy,” said Melissa Cavanagh, Senior marketing director.

Cavanagh says the best way to make the most of your Santa experience is to book a reservation online.