The Hippo


May 29, 2020








Early visit with Santa at the Mall of NH. Allie Ginwala photo.

See Santa!

A few photo ops, workshops and more
Santa photo visits
Santa will be available daily through Wednesday, Dec. 24. For all locations’ daily times see 
Where: Mall of NH in Manchester (In JCPenney court next to Santa’s village)
Where: Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua (Santa Set, North Court, Level 1 near Target)
Where: Mall at Rockingham Park (Santa Set, Level 1 in JCPenney Court)
Caring Santa
A low-stimulus environment for children with special needs and their families to see Santa is taking place Sunday, Dec. 7, at each of the above malls.
Mall of NH, 9 to 10:30 a.m.
Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua,  8 to 10 a.m.
Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem, 8 a.m. (RSVP to
Pancakes with Santa
Includes breakfast, professional photograph, and craft to take home
When: Sun., Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to noon
Where: Hosted by Nine Lions Tavern, 4 North Road, Deerfield
Cost: $10 per child
Pet photos with Santa
When: Sun., Nov. 30, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua
When: Sun., Nov. 30, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Mall at Rockingham Park
When: Mon., Dec. 1, Mon., Dec. 8, Mon. Dec., 15 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Mall of NH in Manchester
Santa's Workshop
Get your photo taken with Santa, write a letter for his mailbox, and make crafts in his workshop
When: Sat., Dec. 6, from 10 a.m. to noon
Where: St. Joseph Hospital, 172 Kinsley St., Nashua
See: Sheila Caron, 883-300, ext. 63208,
Visit with Santa
Where: First Congregational Church, 508 Union St., Manchester
When: Sat., Dec. 6, from noon to 2:30 p.m.
Visit with Santa
At the annual Bedford Men’s Club 
Christmas tree sale
When: Sat., Dec. 6, and Sat., Dec. 13, from 10 a.m. to noon
Where: Bedford Village Shops, Rt. 101
Santa in the Park
Get your photo taken with St. Nicholas
When: Sun., Dec. 7, from noon to 2 p.m.
Where: Greeley Park Gazebo, Nashua
Pet photos with Santa
For $25 donation, enjoy a private 15-minute professional photo session with your pet and Mr. Claus
When: Sat, Dec. 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Animal Rescue League of NH, 545 Route 101, Bedford
See:, 472-5714
Email to register.

Elf for a day
The Hippo hangs out with Santa at the mall

By Allie Ginwala

 The weeks leading up to Christmas Day are a busy time for Santa Claus, and for his helpers who visit places like malls and parades in his stead (and who, for the sake of simplicity and younger readers, let’s also call “Santa”). On a recent Saturday, the Hippo spent a few hours with Santa at the Mall of New Hampshire and learned what life is like for him during the merriest months of the year. 

Santa takes trips to multiple venues and sees children react to him in all different ways. 
“You get all kinds,” Claus said. “Sometimes they run up and stop ten feet away and others run right to me.”
On this particular morning, children approached him with a mixture of admiration and apprehension. One little boy spotted Santa and sprinted over to say hello while his sister clung to their mother’s leg, giving Santa a small smile from a few feet away. Other kids jumped on his lap or gave him big hugs or enthusiastic high-fives. 
The Mall of New Hampshire and The Noerr Programs Corp. created a welcoming village in the JCPenney court for Santa, with a big red chair, piles of presents, twinkling lights, and tall, green trees. Michael Gandolfo, region manager for The Noerr Programs, stuck by Santa’s side, making sure he was comfortable, holly and jolly. The Noerr Programs works with Santa every year, helping him visit with as many children as possible. Gandolfo estimated that in a mid-sized mall like the one in Manchester, 25,000 people will come through in a season.
With all the children to see and toys to make, Santa has very little down time until the new year. Gandolfo said he’ll visit malls right up to Christmas Eve, with the exception of Thanksgiving Day. 
“He has dinner with Mrs. Claus and the reindeer,” Gandolfo said.
Even with his oppressive schedule, Santa wouldn’t miss his trips from the North Pole. 
“The kids are No. 1,” Claus said.  Plus, “This is a good time [to visit] because I get to check out who’s naughty and nice.” 
While it may seem that there is no way he can possibly get everything done in time, he always manages. 
“Santa can do some pretty magic things,” Claus said.
Everyone from infants to elderly visitors came to see Santa, proving that you are never too old to revel in holiday cheer. Two older gentlemen greeted Santa and asked how he’s been. 
“We’ve been looking at you for 85 years and you don’t age a bit,” they told him, chuckling. 
“Ain’t that something!” Claus replied.
Gandolfo has worked with Santa for a number of years (albeit not 85) and has seen the change in what gifts kids ask for. 
“It always amazes me,” he said. “When I was a kid it was G.I. Joes and Legos. Now it’s technology, tablets and iPhones.” 
While a number of young boys requested a Nintendo DS, other non-electronic items are included in many wish lists this year. A violin, FurReal Friends Pom Pom My Baby Panda, The Lego Movie, and a drum set are some of the dreams of young New Hampshirites this Christmas.
After a full morning of checking his list twice, Santa took a quick lunch break to check on the reindeer before going back to the Christmas village. Watching him give one little girl the “biggest hug he’s gotten all day,” Gandolfo noted how important the kids are to Claus and his helpers. 
“Our guests are top priority,” he said. “Everything else is secondary.” 
As seen in the November 27, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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