It turns out that even Santa Claus isn’t safe from the impact of COVID-19. For the first time since 1861, the man in the red suit won’t be greeting children at Macy’s flagship store in New York City during the holiday season.
Instead, Santaland will be a virtual experience — a major change, but one that lets anybody get involved from home. Starting on Thanksgiving Day and ending on Christmas Eve, kids can visit Macys.com/santaland to take a “personalized, interactive journey” to visit Santa at the North Pole.
When kids “meet” Santa, they’ll be able to share their holiday wish list and even get a selfie with Saint Nick, which will be available to download right away. Other virtual attractions include versions of Macy’s Center City in Philadelphia and Macy’s Christmas Light Show.
This isn’t the only major change that Macy’s is making to its annual holiday festivities. The company previously announced that its beloved Thanksgiving Day parade, which first took place in 1924, would only be seen on TV this time, with no traditional parade route or in-person audience. However, there will still be floats, balloons and Santa himself.
Meanwhile, if your kids don’t want to visit Santaland online, they can still write a letter to Santa and send it to him at Macys.com/believe, or drop it off in stores through Dec. 24. Plus, for each letter up to the first 1 million, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish.
“At Macy’s, the safety of our customers and colleagues is paramount,” said Susan Tercero, Macy’s vice president of branded entertainment, in a press release. “To replicate the magical experience of visiting Macy’s Santaland for children and their families, we will shift to a virtual engagement this year.”
The decision comes as America is enduring another wave of COVID-19 cases nationwide. In the week the announcement was made by Macy’s, another 500,000 people across the country were diagnosed with the virus, which was a single-week record.
“For many, visiting Santa at Macy’s has become a long-standing highlight of the holiday season,” Tercero said. “Macy’s is delighted to have found a way to ensure even more families can enjoy this treasured experience safely during this festive time of the year.”
This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Checkout Simplemost for additional stories.