It’s a fact that any child will confirm: Santa is magical. In Centre County, he makes many appearances throughout the holiday season, giving kids, kids at heart and even pets the opportunity to pay him a visit.
At the Nittany Mall in State College, the man in red has set up a cozy home away from the North Pole. Through Dec. 17, Santa welcomes those on the nice list from noon-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday (with a break from 3-4 p.m.) and noon-5 p.m. Sunday (with a break from 2:30-3:30 p.m.). From Dec. 18-23, his hours extend to 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday (with a break from 5-6 p.m.). He’s also available on Christmas Eve from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. A variety of photo packages are available to purchase.
In Bellefonte, a small hut outside the Centre County Courthouse signifies Santa’s arrival every year. It’s part of Bellefonte Victorian Christmas, but runs throughout December.
“I think the locals know that when the house moves in, Santa is there,” said Renee Brown, who is the vice president of Historic Bellefonte Inc. and is on the Victorian Christmas committee.
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Parents are able to take as many photos with Santa as they’d like, for no charge. Dave Fritts has been Santa’s loyal helper in Bellefonte for 8-10 years.
“I just enjoy being around the kids, that’s all,” he said. “I grow my beard just for it.”
Whenever Santa is in his house — the regular hours are 1-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 6-8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday — Fritts said about 25-30 kids usually stop by. During Bellefonte Victorian Christmas this weekend, those numbers are expected to increase drastically. One year during the annual event, Fritts said 350 kids came through in one day.
“I think it brings more people into town and hopefully more people into the businesses,” Brown said.
The Bellefonte Santa house is open through Dec. 24.
Schlow Centre Region Library’s Polar Express is another popular place to see Santa. It starts out in the children’s department at the library for a reading of the classic holiday book, then families take a trolley to “Santa’s Workshop,” where they can pick up a small gift and get a free photo with Santa.
The last trips on the Polar Express are Sunday; registration is required but walk-in registrations are accepted.
Where else does Santa go?
Santa in the Cave, 1-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Lincoln Caverns, 7703 William Penn Highway, Huntingdon. lincolncaverns.com.
Photos with Santa at Festival of the Trees, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday, Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science & Technology, 540 N. Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap. www.ccunitedway.org/festival-trees.
Milk and cookies with Santa: 3:30-6 p.m. Dec. 12, Dolce Vita Desserts, 2490 Commercial Blvd., State College. www.dvdesserts.com.
Breakfast with Santa: 8-11 a.m. Dec. 16, Centre Hall Volunteer Fire Company, 207 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Centre Hall.
Pictures with Santa: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 16, C. Barton McCann, 4144 Miller Road, Petersburg. mccannart.org.
Pet photos with Santa: 1-4 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 16, Petco, 40 Colonnade Way, State College. 235-9890.
Puppy photos with Santa: 1 p.m. Dec. 16, Bone Bar & Boutique, 135 W. High St., Bellefonte. www.facebook.com/BoneBarBoutique.