By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
This is part of a series of articles on Christmas traditions in Northeast Mississippi.
TUPELO – Since The Mall at Barnes Crossing opened in 1990, Ol’ St. Nick has called it home for the month of December.
Mall manager Jeff Snyder said the mall and Santa Claus go together like peanut butter and jelly, but it’s the way Santa kicks off the Christmas season that sets Tupelo’s mall Santa apart from the rest. The Friday after Thanksgiving each year, Santa leaves his home at the North Pole for his month-long stay at The Mall at Barnes Crossing.
But Snyder said just letting Santa walk in and take his seat in Santa Village just won’t do for such a big appearance and that’s where the Santa Parade comes in. The mall throws a mini parade to usher Mr. Claus into the mall and to officially kick off Tupelo’s holiday season.
“Santa is the last one in the parade and this year he was brought in on a train,” said Snyder. “He walks through the Food Court to Santa Village and there are hundreds of people waiting on him and cheering him through. Christmas starts at the mall with Santa.”
Snyder said children get to see Santa at no charge and can even bring their own cameras if they want so they can get a picture with the big guy.
“Not many malls let you bring a camera and take pictures for free,” said Snyder. “But it is about the children and them enjoying the season with Santa.”
Picture packages also are available for purchase.
Snyder said Santa is probably the biggest attraction the mall has all year.