The COVID-19 pandemic has robbed many children and families of holiday traditions, such as a visit with Santa, but with some careful planning and holiday magic, Precious Blessings Pre-Schoolers got to meet the big man in red in Poulsbo.
In coordination with the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association, Santa sat outside his cottage downtown and greeted the little ones, took photos and passed out candy canes – all while wearing a protective face shield.
Santa’s Cottage in front of the Marina Markethas been the site for children to meet with Santa for nearly 10 years and is an integral part of the holiday decorations that go up in Poulsbo every year.
Santa is typically found at his cottage on the weekends 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. on Saturdays, noon- 3 p.m. on Sundays, and from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve, provided that parents make a food or monetary donation to Fishline.
But Santa was able to find some time in his busy schedule to meet with these little ones on Thursday, albeit with some coronavirus rules in place.
Under normal circumstances, Santa, who has been portrayed by Danny Fritts for several years, would sit inside the cottage where children would sit on his lap or by his side and tell him what they want for Christmas. Instead, now he sits in the doorway with chairs to his side for children to sit in.
“Little ones can still talk with him, but they can’t go in the house. His chair is really big so it blocks the whole entrance,” said Carol Ingles of the HDPA. “This allows for children and parents and of course Santa to be outside, masked up but still able to talk to Santa.”
The cottage was built by Bill Austen, who also built the structures that light up downtown Poulsbo this time of year. While the HDPA had a spot for folks to visit Santa elsewhere initially, it wasn’t great structurally, and when the inevitable winter elements arrived Santa got a little chilly. Not only that but the location didn’t get much foot traffic.
“Years ago we had a sort of make-shift deal for Santa, and he would always get wet, and it was cold, and it wasn’t really in a prominent spot in town,” Ingles explained. “Bill decided he was going to build a Santa house for the little kids, and he did it in a way that fits with the style of our town, and it comes apart in pieces, and it’s just very enchanting for the little ones.”
Glen Anderson, who owns the Marina Market property, has invited the HDPA to place Santa’s Cottage there so anyone taking a stroll downtown will see it.
Santa’s Cottage also comes with a letterbox where children can place their letters to Santa, which will be answered by Mrs. Claus.
“It really is kind of cute, because this one woman always does it every year,” Ingles said. “She writes about three or four form letters, and they’re all handwritten, and she writes the children back. Sometimes at the end of the season, she will read some of the letters to us at the HDPA board meetings and they are so cute.”