CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It’s the most wonderful time of the year at La Palmera Mall. Why? Because the big man in the red suit, Santa Claus, is back!
And he's going to be in place today until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Walk-ins are welcome and are on a first-come, first-serve basis on Friday.
It’s a yearly tradition for many families to go to the mall and take pictures with Santa, and some even come with their pets.
Amelia Bond came with her granddaughter Gwendolyn who was born just 4 months ago. It’s Gwendolyn’s first Christmas and Bond said her favorite part about Christmas is getting together with the family.
“She’s our great-granddaughter. I have been bringing my great-granddaughter that will be 9 in January all these years and it’s just beautiful memories for me,” Bond said.
Santa has been working seasonally at La Palmera Mall for 19 years. He said he got into it when his family joked that he looked like Santa, so he threw on the red suit, boots, and red cap and started working at the mall.
“I love being Santa man. That’s my whole heart. I treat everybody as a child-like they’re my own,” Claus said.
He said his favorite part about the job is seeing the generations of families come by and grow up and eventually have their own kids that sat on his very lap.
“That is priceless to me. To see somebody grow up and become an adult,” the guy in the red suit said.
However, he said even though he is passionate about the job and loves every minute of it, it’s not a job that any old elf can do.
“A lot of people meet the qualifications of looking like Santa but to me, to be a good Santa, you have to have the heart,” he said.
Of course, I had to ask what Santa wanted for Christmas after I told him I would love a dog. His reply was, "nothing."
“I give my Christmas to my people. I really don’t have Christmas. I give it to them,” he said.
The mall is offering pictures with pets for the last time Wednesday until 9 p.m. They also have their last "Quiet Time" this Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m., where kids who are sensitive to loud noises can come to take pictures before the mall is open.