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The Santa experience will be different than it was in 2020

Santa has already arrived at some of the area malls and this year you can either sit a little closer to the big guy in red or stand a few feet away.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — This year the Santa experience will look a little different than it did in 2020. Last year, just months after the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, kids and families getting their photos with Santa were kept at a distance and wore masks.

This year, you can get a little closer to the big guy in red or keep that distance if you choose.

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At the Vancouver mall, you can immerse yourself into the world of Buddy the Elf. Santa's home this year is a recreation of the popular Christmas movie starring Will Ferrell.

You can walk through the Gimbels Department Store window and snap a few selfies before you make your way through the Candy Cane Forest. Just around the corner, you'll find Santa!

"It is an interactive set. There are multiple selfie opportunities," said Amy Tanska, marketing manager for the Vancouver Mall. "In front of Gimbels is the perfect Christmas card for people to take and send over and recapture that experience of malls, great department stores and a little bit of nostalgia there, but in something that's completely modernized."

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This year you can actually sit with or next to Santa or you can stand a few feet apart if you choose. The malls are leaving that option up to you.

At the Washington Square Mall, they say parents can choose to sit or stand at a distance as well and said masks are optional for the photos.

At both the Vancouver Mall and Washington Square Mall, Santa is fully vaccinated

You can find Santa at a number of malls and shopping centers around the metro area. He's already arrived at Vancouver, Washington Square and Clackamas Town Center and will show up to Pioneer Place downtown the day after Thanksgiving and stay until Dec. 24.

Reservations are highly recommended.

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