Santa’s coming to town Friday

Nov 10, 2015

By Jim Hendricks, Albany Herald

ALBANY — Friday the 13th an unlucky day? You’ll have a hard time convincing kids in Albany that it is.

After all, that’s the day Santa Claus is coming to town.

One of the surest signs that the holiday season is not just approaching but here is the arrival of the guy in the red fur suit from way up north. And St. Nick’s scheduled to make his arrival Friday evening at Albany Mall, where he’ll set up shop to collect intelligence over the next several weeks so that he’ll know what to load up his sleigh with on Christmas Eve for his annual around-the-world tour.

“We do an arrival celebration,” said Debra Rowe, marketing director for the Albany Mall. “That part is at center court. It starts at 6:30 (p.m.). We’ll have hot chocolate and candy canes, and there’ll be some entertainment. This year, we’ve got Karla Heath Sands back as emcee. And we’ll have Ballet Theatre South performing this year.”

That program will last about a half hour.

“Santa comes in on his Holiday Express Train at 7 o’clock,” Rowe said.

The Holiday Express is Santa’s preferred mode of transportation while his reindeer prepare for the Christmas flight. “When Santa brought it (the train) to us, that kind of became his tradition. He comes that way every year.”

Santa also has another annual tradition — making a priority out of giving to those who need a helping hand during the holidays. “He’ll make the first donation to the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign, as well as the first donation to the Toys for Tots.”

Santa prepares to light the Albany Mall Christmas tree in a previous arrival night at the Albany Mall. (Albany Herald file photo)

After that, St. Nick wields a bit of his North Pole magic, lighting the center court Christmas tree and bringing to life the toy trains that travel around the mall on an elevated track.

Once the ceremony is complete, Santa gets back in his Holiday Express and leads the crowd to the JC Penney wing, where his headquarters is set up. There, he’ll meet with kids, pose for photos with them and get their Christmas lists through Christmas Eve.

Rowe said the annual event is popular with youngsters in the Albany area. “It’s hard to put a number on it,” she said when asked how many kids turn out for the event, “but I’d say probably 500 kids or so.”

Some special events to keep in mind during Santa’s visit this year:

• Santa’s PJ Party will be 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. on Dec. 4. Tickets are $6 per child and are available starting Friday at the information center.

• Paws-n-Claus, special times when pet owners can get photos of their pets taken with St. Nick, will be 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 7-8, 14-15 at his Penney wing station.

Other special events at the mall this holiday season:

• Ladies Night Out, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Nov. 19, sponsored by The Albany Herald.

• Winter Fashion Show, 1 p.m., Nov. 21, center court.

• Free gift wrapping (tips go to charities) at center court 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 5 and 12 and at times to be announced Dec. 18-24.

• Share the Joy!, a ministry of Byne Memorial Baptist Church, will have musical performances 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 11 and 18, and a hospitality station and musical performances noon-6 p.m. Dec. 12 and 19.

Information is available at

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