Santa stopped by the office today and mentioned that he was getting restless and wanted to slip out and go down to a shopping mall this weekend. Most people don't know this little secret, but Santa does sometimes sneak into stores and shopping malls and takes over for the store's Santa Claus. He highly compensates his counterpart that is playing him, but it gives Santa the opportunity to visit with people and families somewhat incognito.
We got to talking and I asked him if he remembered the first time he went out into the public like this secretly, and as the conversation continued, it turned to the appearance of the first shopping malls. At first it was a bit hard from him to go to just department stores, but as malls began to pop-up all over, it was easier to just slip in and slip out.
After he left, we thought we would do a little research of the origin of shopping malls in suburban areas. With countless families moving to the suburbs in the 1950s, fewer Americans could simply walk out onto the street to do their shopping. Shopping malls catered to this new, car-driving demographic, placing all consumer desires in one convenient location.
The first mall in the U.S. was built in 1956, in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul. It is known as Southdale Center Mall. It is the oldest climate controlled, fully enclosed mall in the U.S.
Santa remembered going to this mall a couple of times in the early 1960s. This was a great location for him since he was great friends with the gentleman who played him in the mall and with a simple phone call, he could slip in and be amongst the shoppers without them realizing exactly who he was.
Santa shared with me a story about the Hillsdale Mall (Featured in the video above). One time when he was there, he was almost discovered to the be real thing during his lunch break. As he was sitting and enjoying his sandwich that the Mrs. packed for him, a little boy walked over to talk with him. "You know, I saw you last Christmas," the boy said. "What do you mean?" asked Santa. "Yes, I know exactly that it was you that was in my living room leaving presents." "How can you be so sure?" asked Santa. "You had that same scuff mark on your left boot, just like that one," replied the boy. Santa looked down and noticed the scuff on his boot. He didn't even know it was there. After fumbling and thinking what to say, he replied back to the boy and said, "Well my young friend. You know my secret. So let's don't tell anyone else that it is really me, okay?" The boy agreed, but Santa did cut his stay there that year a little short. When he got back home, he made sure to get all of the scuff marks off his boots.
So, if you are at the mall, anywhere, you never really can tell if that is the real Santa sitting up there, talking with the kids and waving at the shoppers. It very well could be the real true Santa from time to time.
Do you think you met the real Santa while out shopping sometime? Tell us your story. Send Santa a message on our contact us page.