Kids, cover your ears, Macy’s has some bad news: Santa Claus won’t be visiting any of the retailer’s stores in 2020, ending a 159-year holiday-season tradition.
In a move stolen from the plot of every Santa Claus movie ever made, wherein Santa faces obstacles on Christmas plans, the jolly red and white bearer of gifts will be consigned to Internet-only appearances on behalf of the chain. That ends the store’s long association with in-store appearances by St. Nick, which date to 1861.
Macy’s and Santa are forever tied together as a part of the 1947 Academy Award-winning film Miracle on 34th Street, where the real Kris Kringle is hired at Macy’s flagship New York City store. Later in the film — spoiler alert! — he is declared the real Santa Claus by a court ruling.
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Macy’s tried to put a happy face on the humbug news.
“To replicate the magical experience of visiting Macy’s Santaland for children and their families, we will shift to a virtual engagement this year,” said Susan Tercero, Macy’s VP Branded Entertainment, said in a press release. It will be available online from November 27-December 24.
The experience will feature a greeting from virtual elves, who then lead the way through Santa’s village and workshop, allowing playtime with interactive games. At the end of that trip, kids will meet Santa through an interactive video and can share their holiday wish list and take a selfie with Santa that will be downloadable.
The online experience is limited to three children at one time, Macy’s said. Left unsaid is what parents will do if they can’t access the site after building up young hopes.
Santa Claus will still be a part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, bringing up the rear to herald the start of the shopping season. However, the parade won’t have its traditional look and feel, as the store is once again bowing to pandemic pressures.
It announced last month that it is going to stage a “television-only special presentation” this year. The number of participants will be smaller, and the huge balloons that are part of the experience will be guided by special vehicles instead of human handlers.