Santa arrives at Park Meadows

Annual event kicks off holiday shopping season

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Highlands Ranch residents Casey and Stella Oyloe may only be 6 and 4, but their Christmas lists reveal their technological maturity.

“An iPhone and pixie dust,” 6-year-old Stella said as she, her sister and two cousins waited to see Santa Claus at Park Meadows mall Nov. 9.

“An iPhone and a baby doll,” 4-year old Casey said.

Cousin Patrick Westhoff, 7, of Commerce City, had an equally adult request.

“Avalanche tickets,” he said, struggling and failing to think of anything else he wanted.

Zoe Westhoff, meanwhile, has her hopes set on a more traditional childhood-variety gift.

“My Little Pony and a Princess Twilight Sparkle doll,” the 7-year-old said.

Around the corner, Castle Rock 4-year-old Emma Maddaford, attired for the morning in a sparkling red sweater dress, said she wants a mermaid tale and Christmas pajamas.

Her 3-year-old brother Miles explained his fondest desire in detail.

“I want the Polar Express train that goes around the tree, and then we can push a button and it goes around the tree,” he said.

The six were among hundreds of children waiting at the Lone Tree mall Saturday morning to greet Santa Claus and kick off the holiday shopping season.

Santa, known to some as Sterling resident Larry Propp, arrived in grand style on a South Metro fire truck. As he stepped out of the cab, a small girl broke free from the crowd of onlookers and wrapped her arms around him in a tight hug. He quickly was surrounded by excited children, who accompanied him on a walk through the mall to Santa’s Village — a section of the mall reserved for Santa and his visitors from now through Christmas.

Children weren’t the only ones happy to see Santa.

The day of Santa’s arrival at the mall is typically one of the busiest of the year at Justice children’s clothing store, manager Cori Wagner said.

“I think this is going to be a better shopping season than last year,” she said. “I think now that the furlough is over, people will be spending money.”

Lego store supervisor Courtney Morgan said a shorter shopping season meant the season started early this year.

“On Halloween night, we put all our Christmas stuff up,” she said. “So I think people this year are more apt to get in the spirit earlier.”

Park Meadows traditionally draws high traffic — with parking lots often filled to capacity — during the holiday season, but manager Pamela Schenck-Kelly isn’t sure this season will set records.

“It’s difficult when you have big numbers to grow by big numbers,” she said. “The retail industry has plateaued at this point.”

Employees are difficult to find this year, indicating a drop in unemployment, Schenck-Kelly said.

“The other factor is I think the community has become very stabilized,” she said. “We have a very educated consumer. I think they’re more savvy than typical here because of this demographic, but it’s also due to technology. They know real value as opposed to inflated value. They’re more zeroed in on what they want.”

Along with malls and retailers nationwide, some Park Meadows stores will open Thanksgiving night, with others starting Black Friday at midnight and the remainder between then and 8 a.m.

Children can visit Santa at the village near the Vistas mall entrance on the following dates and times:

• Nov. 9 - Dec. 13

Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Sunday: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

• Nov. 29 Black Friday

9 a.m. - 8 p.m.

• Dec. 14 - Dec. 21

Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Sunday: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

• Dec. 22 – Dec. 23

Sunday-Monday: 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.

• Dec. 24

Tuesday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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