#childsafety | Santa To Wear Mask, Sit Behind Plexiglass At Bridgewater Commons


BRIDGEWATER, NJ — The big man himself, Santa Claus, is returning to the Bridgewater Commons mall, but in a very different way than in years past due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Santa will arrive at Center Court on the mall’s Lower Level on Nov. 16 for the “Safe Santa Celebration”, which will offer children of all ages safe, socially-distanced visits and photos via a reimagined, no-touch walk-through experience.

“This is something that I’ve never had to do in my whole career,” Bridgewater Commons Marketing Director Tom Kovacic said. “I feel what we’ve pulled together … there is some reality to it but we don’t want to let go of the beloved tradition and what better way to end the year than on a high note of meeting Santa.”

Instead of the Santa experience just being located in Center Court, Kovacic said they expanded it throughout the mall.

Guests will get a taste of the experience as soon as they enter the mall as thousands of lights will line the corridors leading to Center Court where more light curtains and candy-cane inspired twists will cascade from high above.

Santa will sit in his velvet chair on an elevated platform set seven-feet behind a red photo frame with plexiglass. The plexiglass may be removed depending on the quality of pictures, said Kovacic.

Guests will enter the winter wonderland with social-distancing floor markers and holiday-themed sanitizing stations. It will end with a personal visit with Santa where children can talk to him through a two-way, high-end wireless communications system with headset, microphone and speaker.

Photos will then be taken at the end where Santa will sit in his chair and the family will stand or sit on the other side of the plexiglass frame. There will be no sitting on Santa’s lap this year.

“We’re quite literally not sitting on Santa’s lap this year,” said Kovacic. “Rather we’re encouraging safe and responsible visits to the North Pole where our novel holiday installation ingeniously marries the long-time tradition of a one-on-one interaction with Santa with a physically-distant experience.”

The Safe Santa Celebration will begin Monday, Nov. 16 through Thursday, Dec. 24. To maintain appropriate COVID-19 safety measures and social-distancing procedures, those wishing to visit Santa will be required to wear face coverings and make an appointment in advance.

Beginning Sunday, Nov. 1, shoppers can book a reservation on the Bridgewater Commons’ website at bridgewatercommons.com. Families will also be able to enter their child’s first name and include special gifts straight from their wish lists when booking the appointment.

Select hours have been reserved for live Virtual Santa appointments via Zoom, as well.

“Ensuring we made safety our top priority, we think what we developed still captures the magic and what kids want to see,” Kovacic said.

Safe Santa Cares

Coinciding with International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Thurs., Dec 3, Bridgewater Commons, in partnership with The Arc of New Jersey Family Institute, will open Safe Santa Celebration prior to regular mall operating hours. From 9 to 11 a.m., the Safe Santa Cares sensory-friendly event will welcome children and adults within all spectrums of special needs to visit and take photos in a quiet setting. Families should reserve their time slot in advance at bridgewatercommons.com.

Pet Photo Schedule

Dogs and cats are welcome at Safe Santa Celebration, too, and also are required to make a reservation. The annual pet photo with Santa will be conducted every Monday from Nov. 16 through Dec. 16, 5 p.m. to close.

Safe Santa Celebration Photos

Touchless point-of-purchase will be available at Safe Santa Celebration. Beginning Sunday, Nov. 1 visit bridgewatercommons.com for photo packages and pricing.

Safe Santa Celebration Operating Hours

Nov. 16 through Dec. 17

  • Mon.-Thurs.: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Virtual Santa appointments)
  • Mon.-Thurs.: 1 to 7 p.m.
  • Fri.-Sat.: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Sun: noon to 6 p.m.
  • *Monday, Nov. 16: no Virtual Santa appointments; program begins Tuesday, Nov. 17
  • *Friday, Dec. 4: noon to 8 p.m.
  • *Saturday, Dec. 5: noon to 4 p.m.

Dec. 18-23, 2020

  • Mon.-Wed.: 10 a.m. to noon (Virtual Santa appointments)
  • Mon.-Wed.: noon to 8 p.m.
  • Fri.-Sun: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Dec. 24, 2020

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