Here's some jolly news to kick off December. Despite the risks of international travel and visiting the homes of people not in your pod, Santa Claus is still coming to town.
Recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci the country's top infectious disease doc confirmed that Santa "has a lot of good innate immunity." So he'll still be able to make his Christmas Eve rounds all around the globe safely. 🎉
There's no official word yet on whether his elves on shelves carry the same immunity, so it's probably best to keep them in quarantine for as long as possible.
In Tucson, Santa and his helper Jingles the Elf are spreading a little Christmas cheer in advance of the holiday to Tucson kiddos between the ages of 4 and 8 through the city of Tucson's Santa's Calling program.
For two back-to-back nights, Dec. 8 and Dec. 9, Santa will be squeezing in as many phone calls as he possibly can between 5:30-8 p.m. to check in with Tucson children, confirm their wish lists and remind them to be nice and not to cry or pout (although considering the circumstances of this year, we think he'll be a bit more flexible on the crying and pouting). If his list is too long or he needs too many cookie breaks, he'll add a third night of calls on Dec. 10. If you happen to miss his call, he'll send your kid a letter instead.
Parents, you have a few different options to add your kid to the big guy's call list.
Find more information about the Santa's Calling program here.
If your kid is hoping for some face time with Santa, here are a few other options for socially-distanced visits with him this year.
Tohono Chul Virtual Santa Visits
What: Tohono Chul is partnering with Tucson Electric Power this year to offer virtual experiences with Santa Claus. You can request either a personalized prerecorded video from St. Nick or schedule a live Zoom chat.
Cost: Videos range from $15-$25 and Zoom chats are $20-$30.
More info: Visit Tohono Chul Park's website for more details and to schedule your virtual experience.
Visit Santa at Main Gate Square
What: Snap your pic with Santa who is keeping safe behind a plexiglass snow globe. Be sure to bring your mask and keep your distance from others while waiting in line.
When: Sundays, Dec. 5, 12, 19 and Thursday, Dec. 24 from 1-4 p.m.
Where: Geronimo Plaza, 814 E. University Blvd.
More info: Find more info on the Main Gate Square website.
Something Blue Photography's Santa Experience
What: This downtown photography studio is offering a full, private “Santa Experience” photo shoot. Families can interact with Santa in a socially distanced way for 15 minutes while a photographer snaps pictures. You'll receive about 50 digital images and your visit may include hearing Santa's reindeer on the roof, reading a Christmas book together and looking into Santa's magical bag of gifts.
When: Photo sessions will happen on Dec. 12-13
Cost: $199 per family
More info: Reservations are required and space is limited. Go here to reserve a spot and for more information.
Marana Christmas Cruise
What: Marana is hosting a one-day drive-thru Christmas event where guests can preview the town's Christmas-tree light show and wave to Santa along the route. Kids can leave their letters and wish lists with elves as they pass by Santa's station. If you include a self-addressed stamped envelope Santa will be sure to reply.
When: Dec. 5, 6-9:30 p.m.
Where: Near the Marana Municipal Complex, 11555 W. Civic Center Drive. Take the Tangerine exit from Interstate 10, drive west and follow the event signs.
More info: Find more information on the Town of Marana's website.
Zoo Lights: Holiday Magic at Reid Park Zoo
What: Stroll the grounds of Reid Park Zoo at night and enjoy its holiday light extravaganza. The zoo is adding a North Pole Village where guests can have a socially distanced visit with Santa.
Where: Reid Park Zoo, 3400 E. Zoo Court
When: Dec. 4-23 starting at 5:30 p.m. Encore nights are Dec. 26-30, but Santa will have returned to the North Pole by then and will not be present.
Cost: Tickets are $11 general admission, $9 for seniors, $7 for children.
More info: Purchase your tickets online here. The zoo is limiting the amount of visitors, so be sure to get your tickets in advance as some nights have already sold out.
Miracle on Congress Street
This magical holiday pop-up event returns downtown this time at Playground Bar and Lounge for believers of all ages. Santa will be on the rooftop waving to believers of all ages, and you can drop off a letter in the mailbox set up outside in front of the Tucson Together mural on the east-side of the building. Santa's elves will be giving out free kids scoops of peppermint ice cream from the Hub Ice Cream Parlor truck and adults can enjoy a holiday-themed cocktail next door at Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery. Free parking is available at the AC Hotel Tucson Downtown.
When: Fridays-Sundays, Dec. 4-19. Santa will appear from 4-6:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from noon-4 p.m. on Sundays.
Where: Playground Bar and Lounge, 278 E. Congress St.
Cost: Free to attend, bring money for food and drinks.
More info: Visit the Miracle on Congress St. Facebook page for more information.
Snow Globe Santa at the Oro Valley Marketplace
Take socially-distanced selfies with Snow Globe Santa and admire the warm glow of the holiday tree.
Where: Oro Valley Marketplace, 12155 N. Oracle Road
When: Wednesdays, Dec. 9, 16, 23, 4-6 p.m.
Visit the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance Facebook event page for more information.
Arizona Daily Star reporter Gerald M. Gay contributed to this story.