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9 Socially-Distanced Santa Experiences Around Ann Arbor This Year

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and strict social distancing measures across Michigan, many families have been left wondering if they’ll be able to give their children the gift of Santa this year.

Luckily—because Michiganders are nothing if not innovative—people across the state have found ways to offer you a magical Christmas, while also keeping you and your family safe. We rounded up a few local Santa-centric 2020 traditions right here! Socially distanced Santa visits, drive-through holiday events and virtual chats with Mr. and Mrs. Claus — here are several ways your children can safely spend time with Kris Kringle in and around Ann Arbor.


Visit with Santa during a socially distanced experience at Briarwood Mall

From November 27 through December 24, Santa will be setting up shop at the Briarwood Mall! While children will not be able to sit on his lap and chat with him, they will be able to sit at a safe distance and tell Santa their wish list. Guests 2 years old and older are required to wear face coverings that fully cover the nose and mouth while meeting with Santa. Employees will also be wearing masks and will undergo daily health screenings and temperature checks. Due to recent restrictions, this event may change or be cancelled. We recommend visiting the Briarwood Mall website for the most up-to-date information.


Write a letter to Santa and drop it off in the Main Street Santa Mailbox


Photo courtesy of Main Street Ann Arbor

When you’re a kid, there’s nothing better than writing a letter to Santa and actually receiving a response in the mail! This year, your children can write their letters and drop them off at the special express mailbox in front of Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub on South Main. Santa guarantees a reply to all letters that include a return address! This special mailbox will be up until December 14th.


See Santa drive through Milan on the back of a Choo Choo Train

While we look forward to the Milan Christmas Parade every year, we understand why they’ve had to cancel it for 2020. Fortunately, the best part of the parade (Santa, of course!) still plans to make an appearance throughout the city! Kris Kringle will be riding on the Backstreet Cruisers Choo Choo Train and will be escorted by Milan Area Police and Fire as he visits various neighborhoods and side streets throughout Milan on December 5th. Click here for all the information and for a complete map of Santa’s Milan route.


Enjoy a virtual live show with Santa from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland

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Photo courtesy of Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland

Visiting Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth (which just happens to be the largest Christmas store in the world!) is an annual tradition. Instead of traditional visits and pictures on St. Nick’s lap this year, they are planning several virtual visits with Santa on Facebook Live! On December 3rd, 10th and 17th, Santa will talk to children of all ages, sing songs of the season, share a craft and a recipe, and more. Mrs. Claus will also be joining for two of the visits. You can find a list of ingredients and craft supplies to play along with Santa on Bronner’s Facebook page.


Wave to Mr. and Mrs. Claus from your car at the Cranbrook House & Gardens

On December 5th, make the drive to Bloomfield Hills for an exciting, socially distanced holiday event you and your family will never forget. Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and a few holiday friends will be at the Cranbrook House & Gardens, ready to wave and greet you as you drive through the festive grounds. Children will receive gifts from Santa and his helpers along the way.

Families are encouraged to wear Santa hats or holiday outfits and to decorate their vehicles. The most festive family will receive a complimentary Cranbrook membership, which includes free general admission to the Cranbrook Art Museum, the Cranbrook Institute of ScienceCranbrook House & Gardens and one walking tour of campus! The event costs $20 per vehicle and masks are required when interacting with any of the staff. Click here for more information.


Deliver your letter personally at a Santa Drive-Thru in West Bloomfield


If your children would rather give their letters to Santa in person, don’t miss West Bloomfield’s Letters to Santa event on December 5th! This drive-thru event will be hosted 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Recreations Activities Center. Drive through, meet Santa, and drop off your family’s letters to him. Children will receive a special goody bag. This special event costs $7 per resident child or $9 per non-resident child. You can pre-register for a time slot, here.


Watch Santa work in his workshop at the Hudson Mills Metropark

If you’re looking to get outside this holiday season, head to the Hudson Mills Metropark for their annual Santa’s Winter Wonderland Walk on December 13th! Take a short stroll along the candy cane trail for the chance to meet a variety of Christmas characters. You’ll even get a magical chance to peek into Santa’s workshop and spot him getting ready for the big night. Registration for this event should be completed by December 12. Social distancing and face coverings are required to participate.


Meet with Santa over Zoom with JingleRing


JingleRing is a brand new online service that allows you and your family to book a virtual chat with Santa! For $19.95, you can receive a personalized recorded message. $24.95 provides a fun, customized virtual experience for your whole family. You can choose your preference for ethnicity, language (including ASL) and even faith, so your family can have a special, personal experience with Mr. and Mrs. Claus at home. Click here for all the information!


Get a personalized Santa video on Cameo

You may know of Cameo as the website where you can pay and receive a special, personalized video message from your favorite celebrity. This holiday season, you can book a North Pole celebrity as well! Multiple Santas—from classic Santas to puppet versions—are using the platform to deliver customized messages to Christmas enthusiasts and children. Click here to get started.


We Ho-Ho-Hope You Have a Great Holiday Season!

While your 2020 visit with Kris Kringle may be anything but traditional, we hope you still have a great time!

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