Santa is busy at Willowbrook Shopping Centre with five-minute Zoom meetings with children. All the slots are booked up through the holidays. (Willowbrook Shopping Centre/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Santa is busy at Willowbrook Shopping Centre with five-minute Zoom meetings with children. All the slots are booked up through the holidays. (Willowbrook Shopping Centre/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Langley mall snowed under with requests for virtual visits with Santa

Willowbrook Shopping Centre is using technology so the kids can talk to the Jolly Ol’ Elf

Youngsters are keeping Santa pretty busy so far in the Christmas season.

Willowbrook Shopping Centre has been unable to hold the traditional Santa’s village with in-person visits by children, pets on certain dates, and even adults wanting to glow in the warmth of the season. So the mall created a free virtual visits, unsure of the public reaction.

The shopping mall management decided to hook up Santa with the technology to connect with local little ones and started taking bookings in November for five-minute Zoom sessions with the big guy in red.

“We had about 1,800 spots,” said Nicole Lotz, Willowbrook marketing director.

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The campaign has been more popular than they could have imagined. The sessions are booked solid through December, and people are still trying to take part.

“We are probably fielding 15 to 20 inquiries a day,” Lotz said.

The virtual visits with Santa are one initiative this holiday season that could take place at Willowbrook. There’s also the Christmas Advent Calendar which offers discounts, specials, free gift with purchase, draws and more.

Unfortunately several traditional events at the shopping centre cannot go ahead because of the global pandemic.

The mall has had to cancel its gift wrapping for charity due to the coronavirus.

“We had partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Langley,” she explained.

But about a month ago, Willowbrook management decided to err on the side of caution so it would not offer gift wrapping for charity this year.

The virus has caused the cancellation of most of the shopping centre’s community events including live holiday performances, and opportunities for charities and community groups to fundraise in the complex.

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