Santa Claus is coming to town!
From the Old Bethpage Village’s Candlelight Evenings holiday festivities to the Jones Beach Magic of Lights show, Long Islanders seemingly have as many options to visit Santa as his list of naughty and nice children is long.
“Interacting with the children and spreading joy wherever I go is the best part of the season,” says the Santa Claus at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, arguably one of the busiest Santas on Long Island. “Unconditional giving to those in need makes this season magical.”
As Long Island’s biggest mall, Roosevelt Field boasts a beautiful Winter Wonderland display featuring a rideable train, glitzy trees, elf helpers, a Toys-For-Tots collection, and a chance for St. Nick to play his guitar. Santa stays to hear from boys and girls through Christmas Eve, even taking photos with pets and Disney characters on select dates and times.
One of Santa’s most luxurious local stops is Old Westbury Gardens, which was built in 1906 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Vintage ornaments adorn every room and cookies and cider are offered to celebrate Santa’s arrival. Kris Kringle sits in a large golden chair near a cozy fireplace befitting the opulent abode.
A similarly historic atmosphere fills the air at St. James’ General Store, which also hosts an annual meet-and-greet with Santa. Countless Christmas gifts have been purchased at the shop, which has been in operation since 1857.
Another popular stop for jolly old St. Nick is Hicks Nurseries in Westbury, which offers a wealth of seasonal decorations and immersive displays. Although Hicks is known for presenting family friendly events all year long, December is a special month since Santa arrives to take pictures and sample the delicious cookies, fudge, and other pasties that are available at Hicks’ Gardener’s Cafe.
“I love going to Hicks and making all types of people feel special and loved,” Hicks’ Santa says. “The most memorable moments are when they ask me to bring something to the less fortunate. Sometimes children even ask for younger siblings and pets. I tell them that’s not my department. I’ve also had three different couples get engaged while sitting on my lap!”
Bayville’s Winter Wonderland, another frequent Santa stop, has in recent years added a haunted Christmas house to its usual holiday offerings. Among the haunted Christmas stars is Krampus, who punishes the children on Santa’s naughty list.
Possibly the most sensational and memorable Santa Claus appearance is Fire Island’s Flying Santa. Taking a break from his sled, Santa flies via plane — not reindeer — above the Fire Island Lighthouse just east of Robert Moses State Park.
When asked what he would like to relay to readers, the Fire Island Santa proclaimed: “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”