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Here comes Santa Claus!

Get out your wish lists. Santa Claus is coming to town on Friday.

That's right; even as kids are still sorting Halloween candy, Santa is arriving this week at International Plaza to set up shop among the popular "Snow Globes" display.

Too early?

Not according to Nina Mahoney, the mall's marketing director. She says the mall has tried in the past to open its Snow Globes exhibit without that right jolly old elf.

"It just didn't work," she said, because people expect Santa to be there.

If the Snow Globes around him look familiar, it's because, unlike in past years, International Plaza did not change the theme. The Polar Express globes were so popular last year that the mall decided to stick with them.

"We just had such a tremendous response," Mahoney said. This is the fifth year for the Snow Globe display, which previously featured movies The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Happy Feet and Fred Claus.

The entrance to the exhibit takes you through a 28-foot holiday tree that features an interactive train engine room. The tunnel archway entrance leads to a snow globe that includes falling "snow" and life-sized sculptures of characters from the movie. Three other globes include 3-D scenes from the film.

The globes serve as a backdrop to Santa's throne. A company will be on hand to snap pictures of little ones — or anyone for that matter — who wants to take a photo with Mr. Claus. And there is even an opportunity to take a photo "aboard" the Express.

What if you want to take your own photo? Mahoney said no one will scream at you if you do, but the mall would rather you didn't.

"The 'no personal camera policy' is an industry trend that many malls are adopting," she said. "One of the advantages that it offers to shoppers is less wait time as lines tend to back up when people take their own pictures."

Because, of course, even if Santa seems to be here a little early, there's not a kid alive who wants to wait even two seconds longer than necessary to talk to him.

Sherry Robinson can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8305 .

Where's Santa?

The International Plaza Santa Claus won't be on his own for long. More mall Santas will be showing up soon.

Nov. 13: Kris Kringle arrives at Westfield Citrus Park in Tampa. At Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg, Santa will be a part of the official tree lighting ceremony from 6 to 8 p.m.

Nov. 14: Santa will arrive at two other Westfield shopping malls, Brandon and Countryside in Clearwater. He'll also make his way into Gulf View Square in Port Richey.

Nov. 21: At 10:30 a.m. Santa will show up at University Mall in Tampa. He will be part of a parade featuring the Salvation Army Band. Wesley Chapel's Shops at Wiregrass will welcome Santa the same day and kick off its Symphony in Lights at 6 p.m.

Nov. 27: Santa will arrive at 6 p.m. to light the 30-foot tree and kick off a four-week series of holiday events in Old Hyde Park Village in Tampa. There will be live music, carriage rides, carolers and other children's activities.

if you go

Snow Globes

The Snow Globes featuring The Polar Express will open Friday on the lower level of the Grand Court at International Plaza, 2223 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 24. Admission is free.

Here comes Santa Claus! 11/04/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 6, 2009 11:04am]
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