Santa is getting socially creative in this distant Christmas season

Griffin Hodge, 5, sister Delaney, 7, and brother Wyatt, 10, wear protective masks while sitting at a safe distance from Santa
Siblings, from left, Griffin Hodge, 5, Delaney, 7, and Wyatt, 10, wear protective masks while sitting at a distance from Santa (Joseph Polselli) at the Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks. They were taking the Santa Claus oath, promising to behave.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)
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What will kids find in their stockings this COVID Christmas?

Behind plexiglass shields and colorful masks, Mr. Claus may have a harder time hearing whether kiddos have truly been naughty or nice.

Shopping malls have had to get creative this socially distant year, with everything from Santa behind a giant see-through face mask, to the big guy fully enclosed in a window-lined horse carriage.

Westfield Century City outdoor mall has two levels where kids can look down and wave at St. Nick, while the Los Angeles Christmas Market on Third Street in Los Angeles has a sleigh where children can climb in and sit with Santa, separated by thick plastic.

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Yes, you can even still mail letters to the North Pole with the help of some socially distancing elves.

CENTURY CITY

Larry Buckelew, dressed as Santa Claus, waves from an enclosed carriage
Larry Buckelew, dressed as Santa Claus, greets visitors to the Westfield Century City shopping mall, in a protective setting against the coronavirus.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)
Aerin Kim, 4, hides behind her mom, Gina, after spotting Santa Claus (Larry Buckelew).
Aerin Kim, 4, acting a little shy, hides behind her mom, Gina, after spotting Santa Claus (Larry Buckelew) at the Westfield Century City mall. Santa was on his way to a lunch break.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)
Larry Buckelew, dressed up as Santa Claus, greets visitors to the Westfield Century City shopping mall.
Larry Buckelew, dressed up as Santa Claus, greets visitors to the Westfield Century City shopping mall.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

THOUSAND OAKS

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Santa Claus (Joseph Polselli) puts on a clear face shield.
Santa Claus (Joseph Polselli) puts on a protective shield before meeting and being photographed at a distance with children at the Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)
Noah Rouse, 11, and his sister Alena, 4, have their temperature taken
Noah Rouse, 11, and his sister Alena, 4, of Moorpark have their temperatures taken by Whispering-Willow Dela Cruz before meeting Santa at the Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)
Evan Lane, 10, background, with sister Sydney, 7, meet with Santa
Evan Lane, 10, background, with sister Sydney, 7, look back to make sure their dad, Brett, with mom, Heather, is covering his ears so that he can’t hear Evan ask Santa (Joseph Polselli) for a specific present for his dad.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles

Delilah Liljedahl-Loya, 3, greets Santa Claus, seated inside his sleigh
Delilah Liljedahl-Loya, 3, greets Santa Claus, seated in his sleigh behind plexiglass at the Los Angeles Christmas Market on Third Street in Los Angeles.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)
Daxton Tait, 4, mails a letter to Santa Claus
Daxton Tait, 4, of Northridge mails a letter to Santa Claus while visiting the Los Angeles Christmas Market on Third Street in Los Angeles.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)
Daxton Tait, 4, greets Jingles the Elf (Robert Bordelon)
Daxton Tait, 4, of Northridge greets Jingles the Elf (Robert Bordelon) at the Los Angeles Christmas Market on Third Street in Los Angeles.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

MOORPARK

Two little girls wait in line
Zoe Vazquez, 2, left, stands next to her twin sister, Stella, of Los Angeles during a visit to Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark. They were waiting in line to take a socially distanced photograph with Santa.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)
A family of four are dressed in matching red checkered clothing
From left, Brettany Grant, her daughter Genevieve, son Hunter and husband Kevin dress for the occasion while preparing for a socially distanced photograph with Santa Claus at Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)
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A girl waves to Santa
Zoie Dabit, 4, of Northridge waves to Santa Claus (Mark Moise) while socially distancing at Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

Redondo Beach

Santa walks past a mall security guard
Santa Claus (Ed Nabors) greets a security guard at the South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach after returning from a lunch break.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)
Aalie Godoy holds up her daughter, Alani Alvarez, 1, while being photographed in front of Santa Claus
Aalie Godoy holds up her daughter, Alani Alvarez, 1, while being photographed in front of Santa Claus (Ed Nabors) at the South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)
Jayleen Evangelista, 6, talks to Santa Claus
Jayleen Evangelista, 6, of Los Angeles tells Santa Claus (Ed Nabors) what she wants for Christmas during a visit to the South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach. She asked Santa for L.O.L. dolls, a tablet, slime and a toy for her dog.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

Hollywood

Nora Vetter takes a selfie with Santa
Nora Vetter of Los Angeles takes a selfie with Santa Claus (Larry Buckelew) at the Hollywood & Highland shopping center in Hollywood. Santa was wearing a protective face shield.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)