By Jessica Mayne
CCC Journalism Program

DEPTFORD – Christmas can’t be far away, because Santa’s back in town.

The benevolent round man of holiday cheer arrived at the Deptford Mall at 10 a.m. Friday, walking through the mobs of Christmas shoppers to his usual place in front of the gigantic Christmas tree in the center of the mall. He was greeted by a small but enthusiastic crowd of youngsters, who were sporting reindeer antler hats courtesy of T.J. Maxx.

First in line, 2-year-old Trent Parsons was eager for Santa’s arrival. He left little doubt what he wants for Christmas, dancing and chanting, “Trains, trains, trains.”

Santa explained to the anxiously waiting children that the trip from the North Pole had been exhausting for the reindeer and the seat in his sleigh was small and hard, so he is letting them rest while he takes pictures.

“We had a good trip,” he said. “It’s a lot warmer here in Deptford than back at the North Pole.”

Santa greeted the children and adults alike, amid waves and the clicking of cameras. He made his way to the mall’s center court to take up his place in front of the tree. Santa will be at the mall through Christmas Eve.

Nadia Brown, who will be 3 in January, was among the first of the youngsters to go sit with Santa and have her photograph taken while telling Santa what she wants for Christmas. Her mother, Cathy, said it was Nadia’s second visit to see Santa.

“She saw him when she was a year old and she was a little afraid of him,” she said.

This time, she was laughing and smiling and hoping Santa will bring her a Tinker Bell and a Winnie the Pooh.

Kristen Heggen, 5, came to the mall with her father, Alan, to get some Christmas shopping done and got an extra gift with the arrival of the man in the red suit.

Shyanne Tucker, 10, emerged from Santa’s set and offered, “He’s nice.”

She and her brother Damon, 3, both had bicycles at the top of their wish list.

Nadia Brown’s grandmother, Deb, recalled when the child’s mother, Cathy, was young, she and her husband would wait up late for Santa.

“We always love seeing him,” she said. “We caught him on video tape a couple of times, so we know there is a Santa. When you quit believing, you quit receiving.”

Riley Whelan, 2, visits Santa Claus. By Jessica Mayne, CCC Journalism Program

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