Having their child’s picture taken with Santa is something every parent does at least once. Some even do it annually, incorporating the photo into a family Christmas card or having it framed as a memento or gift for the child’s grandparents, aunts and uncles. CBS Connecticut has frequently offered tips on the best places to have such an iconic picture taken (see 2011’s Best Places To See Santa), and this year presents five similar locations to create that Christmas memory.
150 Church St.
Torrington CT 06790
Date: Parade Dec. 8, 2013
Since 1947, Carl Bozenski’s Christmas Village has been where the people in and around Torrington go to kick-start their holiday season. The city’s annual Christmas parade culminates at this wonderland of lights and good cheer, and Christmas Village stays open every day from then until Christmas Eve, when Santa closes up shop at noon to get ready for his night-time ride. Visitors can see into Santa’s workshop, watch the elves merrily tinkering away and even shake hands with Mrs. Claus. The parade this year begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday, December 8, and from then on Christmas Village and Santa’s lap will welcome visitors daily.
Santa at Westfarms
1500 New Britain Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06110
Date: Through Dec. 24, 2013
Westfarms Mall is an upscale yet very accessible shopping center, located just outside Hartford with easy access from major highways. Every year it presents an indoor Christmas extravaganza with Santa at the center, and this year is no different. Santa arrived early this year, on November 7, and can only stay until December 24, as jolly Old Saint Nick has things to do and places to go on Christmas Eve. Photo packages start at $21 and go up to $46, and Santa is there most days until closing (see the mall’s Santa website above for times). Westfarms has a lot of wonderful stores, most of which are very nicely decorated for the holidays, and there are plenty of places to get a warm (or cold) drink, a snack or full meal to restore the spirit while searching for the perfect gifts for friends and family.
Santa on the Trolley
The Shore Line Trolley Museum
17 River St.
East Haven, CT 06512
Date: Weekends through Dec. 22, 2013
Santa likes trains and trolleys, as well as sleighs, and at The Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, visitors can meet the jolly old fellow every weekend until December 22. The trolleys are decorated for the holidays, and there are cookies and other refreshments – and a free little gift for every child who sees Santa. There are no professional photographers here. Parents are instead encouraged to bring their own cameras.
Date: Dec. 21, 2013
Why settle for a picture with one Santa? At the annual SantaCon in Hartford, there are hundreds of Santas to choose from. On Saturday, December 21, Hartford will be overrun with Santas. The bar-hopping yet family-friendly event raises money for many good causes – and as such only “good” Clauses are allowed (no drunken Santas, no mean Santas). Photo ops abound in this delightful, often silly, but always festive gathering. Last year, more than 300 Santas paraded around downtown Hartford, flooding the city’s bars (like Black Eyed Sally’s, where it usually begins, The Russian Lady and the Black Bear, among many others). For more on this festive tradition, which has now spread to over 300 cities in 41 countries, visit the Bars You Should Visit During Santacon
Pet Photos with Santa at Buckland Hills
Buckland Hills Mall
194 Buckland Hills Drive
Manchester, CT 06042
Date: Through Dec. 16, 2013
Santa loves pets, too, and for those whose pets are like children (or who have both), the Santa at Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester is the one to visit this holiday season. The very patient Santa and his team of animal-loving elves know how to keep a pet calm enough and still enough to create a photo memory, and do so every Monday during the holiday season, from November 18 through December 16. Pets and their owners will have “a waggin’ good time” on Mondays at Buckland Hills in the “Santa Photo Area” outside of Macy’s on the lower level. The Macy’s Santa is also available for pictures with children, and not just on Mondays. There are also special events which make for great and unique Santa photo opportunities, notably the “Pajama Party with Santa” every Tuesday and the “Caring Claus” Sunday events. This Santa is also infant-friendly and offers a “Baby’s First Christmas with Santa” photo session daily.
Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.