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Is there anywhere in town where we can see Santa for free?

Ben Steelman

The questioner preferred a non-commercial Santa Claus,  where Mom and Dad wouldn’t have to pay money or face a hard sell for “cute” photos.

Away from the malls, alas, Kris Kringle is hard to find this year. Santa has an appearance scheduled from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, as part of Carolina Beach’s “Christmas by the Sea” program. He’ll be taking youngsters’ Christmas wishes there.

Santa and Mrs. Claus used to visit the World’s Largest Living Christmas at Hilton Park, over by Wilmington’s Sweeney water treatment plant. Highway development, however, has made Hilton Park hard to reach for most people, and the Christmas tree is frankly showing its age. Thus, city officials lit a “Holiday” tree this year, downtown at Riverfront Park — very pretty, but no further Santa visits are planned there.

Among the mall Santas, here’s the schedule:

At Independence Mall, Santa is set up over in the Belk Beery wing. His hours through Christmas Eve are 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 2-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

At Mayfaire Town Center, you can find St. Nick at the “Santa Village,” over by Pottery Barn. His hours there are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Santa Village is also the departure point for the “Polar Express” mini-train, which offers a 15-minute ride on various routes through the Mayfaire complex. Tickets are $3.

At The Cotton Exchange downtown, Santa has three more appearances: noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18, 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19 and noon to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 23. Santa usually hangs out in the O’Brien Building, but he occasionally wanders out through the other shops, so keep your eyes peeled. (Hint: He’s the fellow in the red suit.)

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One Response to “ Is there anywhere in town where we can see Santa for free?”

  1. On December 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm Marcia Wiggins wrote:

    You can “see” Santa free at the mall & Mayfaire. You are not allowed to take a picture of your kids (or grandkids) with him. The only photos allowed are the VERY expensive ones they offer to take. It would seem, coming to either location & shopping or eating in one of their establishments would be enough. It’s very sad that both places are so greedy that shopping in at their location isn’t enough. We were very disappointed tonight. We just wanted snapshots of our grandkids with Santa.

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