St. Louis holiday attractions adjust due to COVID

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ST. LOUIS – The BELIEVE! Polar Express Experience will arrive at Union Station on November 20 and stay parked instead of making a trip due to COVID-19. In order to keep the holiday tradition alive, guests can walk through the Polar Express Experience instead.

“We just felt like it was so important for us to keep that tradition alive for this year,” Cameron Schoeffel, Union Station’s director of sales and marketing for attractions, said.

After walking through the decorated train cars, in a similar footprint to Union Station’s Halloween attraction, guests will get to socially-distant talk and get a photo with Santa.

“We’ve got cookies, hot chocolate, all that good stuff; a photo with Santa that will look a little bit different this year than it has,” Schoeffel said. “We will safely socially distance that way as well. It will be a layered photo this year, so guests can come up and still see Santa and write him a little letter.”

Union Station is also hosting a Breakfast with Santa for the first time, with pancakes in the shape of Mr. Claus.

Union Station isn’t the only St. Louis attraction switching plans to make sure everyone is as safe as possible.

Cocoa Santa STL is offering drive-by visits at events or throughout neighborhoods.

“This year I’m doing more social distancing more virtual story time, more virtual visits, my sleigh is decorated for possible parades and larger events that are still fun but distanced so that everyone feels comfortable,” Cocoa Santa said.

Cocoa Santa arrives in a four-wheeled red sleigh decorated with lights, that some outside of the North Pole may call a JEEP.

“It’s too early for the reindeer right now, so I figured I’d get four wheels and show kids that Santa is still out and about,” he said.

Cocoa Santa said it’s important that every child feels included, especially during a COVID Christmas.

“Representation matters because some want to see a Santa that may look more like them or something different, I change every year and this year I’m coming in a darker hue to show everyone that different hues are alright,” Cocoa Santa said.

Cocoa Santa may also be seen at a local mall. Santa arrives at Plaza Frontenac on November 20 and at the St. Louis Galleria Mall on November 27 with socially distanced photos offered.

Just like Cocoa Santa, the Galleria Mall and Plaza Frontenac are teaming up with a company to schedule virtual Santa visits.

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