Falling in line with a 40-plus-year tradition, Santa Claus - Kris Kringle himself - brought his twice-checked list to Friday to find out over the next 50 days who is naughty and who is nice.
He traded in his sleigh on Friday; Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen - and Rudolph - were replaced by the
By touching his finger to his nose, Santa magically appeared outside Salsa's at the mall, where he high-fived and took pictures with the children that marveled at his presence.
He then went up on the truck top of Ladder 18 and was escorted around the perimeter of the mall, waving at all his fans below.
At the lower level of the mall, between Sears and Dick's Sporting Goods, Santa greeted his fans and was escorted through the mall, up the escalator, around the Food Court and finally descending down the escaltor toward his green plush throne near the elevator.
Santa's ready to hear what the youths want for Christmas.
Montgomeryville-Lansdale Patch got an exclusive interview with Santa, thanks to Noerr Programs and Ruth Rosenquist.
Tony Di Domizio: Good afternoon, Santa. How are you?
Santa: I'm very well. Yourself?
TD: I'm great. It's been at least 25 years since we talked.
SC: Every year we should be talking.
TD: So Santa, what made you want to come to the Montgomery Mall as your first stop this year?
SC: Actually, I'm a Santa 365 days a year, so we're well into my year, and Montgomery Mall has always been one of my favorite areas. We're starting tonight with our fire engine entry from Montgomery Township fire department. That will be nice. I will greet kids on the outside, and I'm looking forward to seeing all our friendly little faces that I've seen over the years, plus some new ones. We will have a good time.
TD: Here's the big question: Any kids from the area on your naughty list this year?
SC: As of this year, no, which isn't surprising because we have a lot of good children around here. I'm always watching, making sure everybody's always nice.
TD: So, what are the big, popular toys that you have your elves working on this year?
SC: The biggest ones: we are making a lot of board games this year. "Angry Birds" is a big one. Girls are interested in the new princess dolls from Disney. There are these new dolls out called Squinkies. Boys are into Transformers this year and Legos. From what I've been hearing from the elves, they are busy getting gifts ready for the good ones.
TD: No sleigh or reindeer this year for your arrival?
SC: The volunteers from Montgomery Township fire department always do an escort of myself on the grounds of the mall. I greet children outside the building. Rudolph and the reindeer are up north. They are making sure there's no problem with the take offs and landings.
TD: Will it be a White Christmas this year?
SC: I think we will have a lot of snow this Christmas. That’s our prediction. It will be a great Christmas for kids for playing outside.
TD: Are cookies and milk still your favorite?
SC: It's still that chocolate chip cookie that I like best. And a little glass of milk is always appreciated.
TD: When will you leave the Montgomery Mall?
SC: I’ll be there all the way from tonight through the 24th of December, every day except Thanksgiving. On that day, I go around and see a lot of people who are needy on Thanksgiving.
TD: What do you love about the North Penn region so much?
SC: This area has strong family relationships. I always feel the magic of the season with the smiles and love generated by everyone.
A Mall Tradition
Ashley Pompei, director of marketing and business development for Montgomery Mall, said the tradition of Santa at the mall has been a strong one for a long time.
"Santa's been around forever. As long as the mall's been open, he's been here," she said. "Every year for Santa's arrival, he comes on the truck and there's a parade throughout the mall to say hello to the children and families, and then he sits down in the chair at the Santa set and allows people to take pictures with him."
Pompei said it's great to be one of the first malls in the area to have Santa.
"It's a nice way to start the holiday season and allow people to start shopping early. It gives them a chance to see Santa now, and maybe not wait until later when the lines are longer," she said.
People on the Patch Facebook page were in shock that Santa has arrived to the mall already. Many deemed it "too early" for him to be here.
"I think people always think it's early, but it's always the first weekend in November when he comes down from the North Pole to Montgomery Mall. He was here the same time last year," Pompei said. "People love it."
Santa will remain until December 24, when he leaves to make his way around the world and return to the North Pole.
Montgomery Mall's holiday hours begin on Black Friday.
Montgomery Mall will open at 4 a.m. Specific stores in the mall will open at midnight. So far, , and will be open at midnight on Black Friday.