Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available to chat safely with children of all ages outside ArtWare at Shelter Cove Towne Centre from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 5, 12, and 19. HAPPY, THE ARTWARE ELF

In hopes of bringing a little extra joy this Christmas season, the elves at ArtWare in Shelter Cove Towne Centre have figured out a safe way to get Santa and Mrs. Claus in front of children who want to tell the jolly man their greatest wishes.

While COVID-19 precautions and restrictions will not allow Santa to have children meet him up close, he and Mrs. Claus plan to visit from a safe distance – 6 feet, to be exact.

ArtWare owner Jennifer Megliore said that traditionally, the center’s management company sponsors Santa, but this year management chose not to host any entertainment, hoping to curb close contact during such gatherings.

Since Santa’s calendar was open, Megliore invited him and his Mrs. to stake a spot outside her store, which she has decorated with cheerful red and white twinkle lights. After all, she is celebrating her 20th year in business, and thought Santa could be the icing on the anniversary cake.

Santa and Mrs Claus agreed, and they will be at ArtWare from 5 to 7 p.m. three Saturdays, Dec. 5, 12, and 19.

Megliore said it took some research to create the best, safest way to bring him in contact with the public.

“We are using a ring of garland, to make sure Santa’s fan club is separated by at least six feet or greater,” Megliore said. Also, “Santa and Mrs. Claus are using full (clear) face masks, and they will not be coming into close personal contact with children this year.”

Instead, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on an elevated stage, close enough that young guests can speak to them, then turn around for family and friends to take photos, while still maintaining a safe distance.

“We’ll have an elf handy to help maintain social distance in line, and aid in taking photos, wearing sanitized gloves,” Megliore said.

Even on nights when Santa and Mrs. Claus aren’t onstage at ArtWare, Shelter Cove Towne Centre will be ablaze in festive lights to celebrate the season.

“We will be decorating the palms and oaks that line our streets throughout the shopping center with holiday lights,” said Roni Albritton, manager of the center. “A lot of the stores that I have spoken to will be decorating their storefronts, and many already have beautifully decorated trees up inside their stores.”

While musical performances and other entertainment will not be offered by the management company this year, Albritton said, “We want everyone to have a safe and comfortable shopping experience at Shelter Cove Towne Centre and still enjoy some holiday festiveness.”