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Santa Claus makes early appearance at Shell Factory

By Staff | Jul 14, 2020

Christmas in July at the Shell Factory & Nature Park has always been a popular promotion. The best part of it is when Santa Claus makes an appearance, whether it be at the Christmas House or meeting with kids for breakfast.

On Sunday, it was the latter as numerous families gathered at the new Southern Grill for a meet-and-greet with jolly St. Nick, this time with pandemic rules in place.

Santa still had some kids on his lap, which was very rare, but usually went from table to table to talk with the children to find out how things have been going through this tough time.

The Shell Factory made sure this breakfast was special, with snow falling at the entranceway to the Southern Grill.

Owner Pam Cronin said they took precautions, knowing these children would be anxious to get out and do things, having spent much of the last few months home.

“We moved forward with extra precautions. Every other table was set, social distancing, Santa going from table to table instead of the kids coming to him. Everyone is having a fabulous time,” Cronin said. “Everyone is anxious to get out and do something they feel safe doing.”

Unlike past years, when Santa has made multiple appearances, this was his only one for this 11th-annual event. He said not only was he taking the necessary precautions, but his elves at the North Pole are as well, by wearing masks and keeping six feet apart when making the toys.

“Santa is keeping his distance from other people and encouraging everybody else to do that. But once you’re with a kid, you’re always with a kid. I love all the kids, no matter if it’s Christmas,” Santa said, just as someone from the Nature Park handed Santa a baby kinkachu, which he played with.

Santa didn’t ask many of the children what they wanted for Christmas, since it’s way too early and their minds and tastes change quickly. He just wanted to make sure they were safe and happy

Those attending were very happy to be able to speak with Santa. Cathie Novitski, of Cape Coral, brought her kids and a friend to the event. Cathie always goes to the Shell Factory to see the animals with her children.

“It’s a great place and it’s great that they do this for the kids and community, especially now with COVID going around,” Novitski said. “The kids can play and communicate.”

Friends Bria and Lacey, both 5, were playing in the area that usually serves as the lobby for the Players Circle Theatre. Both said they wanted toys, to which Cathie joked they would probably change their minds tomorrow.

The Christmas House will be open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the entire month, with 20 percent off all collectibles, and there will be the 12 Days of Christmas giveaway at the Christmas House.

The Shell Factory is at 16554 N. Cleveland Ave. For more information, call 995-2141 or go to www.shellfactory.com