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A pandemic pivot: families turn to virtual Santa visits this year

Instead of traditional Santa visits, some people are signing their kids up for online appointments with Jolly Old St. Nick.

FORT WORTH, Texas — 2020 will forever be remembered as the year that took our treasured traditions and turned them upside down, visits with Santa included.

But just like the rest of us, Santa has adapted. He’s gone virtual.

“It's been an incredible experience being able to share holiday cheer in these unprecedented times,” said Santa Claus (A.K.A. Charles "Chuck" Mencke of Fort Worth).

Santas are working with web sites like Jingle Ring and Kringle Mingle, which provide parents the opportunity to schedule online Santa visits with their good little girls and good little boys. For many families, it’s taking the place of traditional Santa visits, many of which have gone away during the pandemic. Virtual Santa visits allow families and Santas alike to avoid contact but still have a personal experience.

A Jingle Ring spokeswoman says overall, the experience gets you more face time with Santa than a traditional mall visit would, and you get a recorded version of the visit.

RELATED: Santa prepares for virtual visits with children, families this holiday season

Mencke is thrilled his favorite season has been salvaged. He says he’s done about 300 virtual visits and counting. He’ll continue those visits on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

“To see the faces light up,” he said. “It’s just been a ball.”

He also thinks this pandemic pivot might actually stick around for Christmases to come.

“This is here to stay. I really feel this is going to be another avenue,” Mencke said.

After all, who doesn’t want yet another way to connect with Mr. Claus?