Visits to Santa are a relatively new experience for our family. In 2011 we made an unexpected visit to Santa after taking a Christmas train ride. Our twins were two at the time and seemed uncertain about the experience. The following year they had a chance to visit with St. Nicholas who, the Dutch will tell you, is a different person than Santa. They had a peak at Santa in a shopping mall from a distance and sent him a letter. This year they visited St. Nick again and looked at Santa from afar in a mall. To our delight, he looked up and waved! This would have been the sum total of our visits this year if we hadn’t received an invitation to visit Santa at Lougheed Town Centre mall.
This past week we had the opportunity to visit and found three surprises.
A snowfall is guaranteed at 11 AM, 1 PM, 3 PM, 5 PM and 7 PM. Since we hadn’t noticed snow falling at any other locations that Santa visits, this was an exciting surprise. We arrived just before 11 AM on a weekday and we were third in line.
Photos With Santa
The set up at Lougheed Town Centre is a little bit different from what you might expect. When the children walk up to see Santa and sit with him, they sit in a semi-private space. Most Santa areas are set up so that the child is fairly visible to people nearby. For a shy child, or one that is sensitive to noise and distractions, this setup definitely has advantages.
Greg, from Legacy Images, was able to get one of our children to focus on the camera. (These days he likes to turn away and scrunch up his face.) Now if only I could have the same luck when I take photos! After the photo session Santa had a quiet chat with the children. Our first attempt to take photos with Santa worked out splendidly.
A Mini Train Ride
We did not expect to find a mini train ride on site encircling Santa’s area. On the other side of where Santa was sitting you can line up for a ride on a model train. (Admission is by donation.) The trains are run by the BC Society of Model Engineers and are part of the Burnaby Central Railway model train collection. Our four year olds are serious train fans so they were very pleased.
We followed up our visit to Santa with a walk around the mall and a stop at Orange Julius in the food court. Our children were happy as they don’t usually have the opportunity to drink smoothies and rarely eat hotdogs. As we walked around the mall I noted that there is a gift wrapping lounge (maximum 3 gifts per visit) and a performance stage.
As a young child some of my strongest memories are from the times when I waited for Santa to arrive at an event. The special features at Lougheed Town Centre helped to make our visit with Santa this year memorable.
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You can see Santa’s area and the model train ride at the beginning of this video, featuring Coquitlam Chorale.