Kids Can Still Meet Santa This Year — Through a Plastic Barrier With Cleaning Elves

Bass Pro Shop is making sure kids safely get their dose of holiday spirit.

Christmas traditions may look different this year, but some stores are still determined to give people a dose of in-person holiday cheer — safely, of course.

Sporting goods stores Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's are determined to fly Santa in from the North Pole to greet kids on his nice list, but will do so through a "Magic Santa Shield," or a clear plastic barrier for a contactless experience. The shield will be cleaned between each visit by "Santa's Sanitation Squad," a team of elves focused on putting health and safety first.

Bass Pro Shops Santa
Courtesy of Bass Pro Shops

"This year has been incredibly difficult for so many kids and families," Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris said in a statement provided to Travel + Leisure. "With countless activities canceled and many families dealing with added stress, we feel it's more important than ever to provide some free Christmas magic and help safely create cherished holiday memories."

To visit with Santa, kids and their families will have to make online reservations in advance, which will be capped to allow for physical distancing. Visitors will then have to undergo a temperature check before entering Santa's Wonderland.

Those who come to see Santa in person will receive a free 4x6 photo and digital download. If people prefer, they can also mail their letters to Santa and receive a free holiday craft activity kit.

Santa will be available starting Nov. 7, and families can line up to greet the Big Guy with a socially distanced tailgate complete with Christmas carols and hot chocolate. Reservations to visit Santa in person can be made starting Nov. 2.

Bass Pro Shops isn't alone in planning a festive in-person experience: The Gaylord Hotels has a life-size walk-through of favorite Christmas movies through the years, and New York City is reopening its famed Winter Village in Bryant Park with COVID-19 protocols in place like mandatory face masks.

Conversely, Macy's has decided to bring its annual Santa experience online instead, including a virtual visit to Santa's village and workshop, games, and an interactive video in which kids will "meet" Santa.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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