Hundreds of youngsters have been queuing to see Santa on his magical sleigh, and have a S-Elfie taken on their mobile phone, at Warrington Golden Square shopping centre.
The giant red sleigh is a new addition to Golden Square this year, enabling Father Christmas to make regular tours around the shopping centre, so few people will miss out on seeing him in his festive carriage.
Helped, by two loyal elves, Santa has also been making himself available for families who want to have ‘S-Elfie’ photographs taken with him, at Santa’s Sleigh Stop near Debenhams.
All they have to do is register with one of his elves, and then return at an allocated time, remembering to bring along their mobile phone or camera if they want a S-Elfie.
Among the first to sign up to be photographed with Santa were the DeSousa family, of Glazebury, Warrington, who loved the idea of having a magic sleigh right in the heart of the shopping centre.
Mum, Susan DeSousa, said: “It is lovely to see all the children’s faces light up as they come up the mall and suddenly see Santa sitting right there in front of them.”
She and husband John, who works for SCC Solutions, Warrington, were doing some festive shopping with their children, Adam, aged three, and Anna, 15 months, who both attend Culcheth Day Nursery, Warrington.
Susan, who works at Sale High School, Manchester, said Adam delighted in telling Santa he wanted a transporter toy for Christmas, while Anna is wishing for a Tellytubby character.
Also jumping up and down with excitement were sisters Arabella and Lola Blezard, of Elton, near Chester.
Arabella, seven, was was perfectly dressed for meeting Santa, in an angel costume made for her school’s Christmas show.
Mum and Dad, Leslie and Ian Blezard said the children were so excited about Christmas that they could hardly stop talking about it.
Leslie, who works in the Build a Bear Workshop at Golden Square Shopping Centre, said: “It has just been fantastic. They’ve loved the chance to have a selfie taken with Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas. The only trouble is Lola’s list changes by the hour, we can’t keep up!”
The youngster who attends Evolution Day Nursery, Manley, said she is hoping for a Slush Maker machine, while Arabella wants a Beanie Boos toy.
Victoria Whitehead, of Mobberley, was also full of festive joy as it was her first day in a new job – as one of Santa’s elves.
“I’m now known as Sparkles and I’m loving it. I can’t believe I have got such a fantastic job,” said Victoria. “Working for Santa is wonderful. It’s been brilliant to meet all the children and their families and see them so excited.
“At times I’ve filled up with tears of happiness because it is so wonderful to see their faces beaming with amazement.”
Victoria, who lives with boyfriend David Hough, in Wood Lane, Mobberley, worked in logistics before applying to be one of Santa’s elves.
“This is so different from my previous job, I can hardly believe I’m here. As soon as I put on my Elf costume I became a whole new person. I want to be an elf forever!” she laughed.
Golden Square Shopping Centre managing director, Ian Cox, said the arrival of Santa Claus had cheered everyone.
“You can see it in their faces, not just people out shopping with their families but everyone who works here, they have all got into the Christmas mood.
“It’s free to have a selfie photograph taken with Santa and we welcome everyone along to join in the fun. We guarantee the resulting images will provide them with such happy memories over this Christmas and in years to come.”
As well as the Santa S-Elfie sessions the Golden Square shopping centre’s Christmas Village offers an array of food and gift stalls in the Old Market Square.
The Christmas Village also features a giant reindeer, named Sprout, and as a festive gift to loyal shoppers there is free parking at Golden Square after 4pm from December 21-23.
Santa, his sleigh and elves will be at Golden Square from 11am-12noon, 1-2pm and 3-4pm over the next two weekends – December 12-13, and December 19-20, then again during the school holidays running up to Christmas, on December 21, 22 and 23.