New Jersey mall requires kids to pay a fee just to see ‘elitist’ Santa

Santa Claus may be coming to town, but kids better not expect an audience with the jolly ol’ fat man unless they can pony up a steep fee.

The “Adventure to Santa” holiday display at a New Jersey mall is requiring parents to purchase packages that range from $35 to $50 before children can sit on Santa’s lap — the fee includes a photo or video of the visit, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Cherry Hill Mall is drawing the ire of parents, who say St. Nick has become an elitist with little use for low-income families.

Photo Credit – Michael Bryant/Philadelphia Inquirer

“I find it class-ist and it creates a divide between children during a holiday which is supposed to be about equality and giving and having everyone participate in the joy of Christmas,” Sulaiha Bitar told the Inquirer.

The display is set up in a large atrium in the center of the mall that has no windows.

“He’s locked up in his castle,” said Elsa Anzideo, a mother of two daughters. “You can’t even see Santa.”

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Anzideo planned to take her children to see Santa while at the mall over the weekend, but that idea fell flat when she learned the price.

“I think it’s outrageous,” she said.

Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, which manages the mall, says the exhibit is unique — one of only 12 in the country.

“Families who experienced this exciting amenity last year commented that it was nothing like any Santa visit they had ever had before, and parents were thrilled with not just the adventure but the quality of the photos as well,” PREIT said in a statement.

But it was free last year.

Christmas displays at other locations often charge for photos, but they generally allow children to sit on Santa’s lap at no charge.

As for those who cannot afford the fee at Cherry Hill Mall, the company said “we were mindful of all our customers’ wishes and therefore host the more traditional Santa visits at our six other PREIT malls in the Philadelphia area.”


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