Grinchy Mall Charges $35 for Kids to Meet Santa Claus, Surprised Everyone Hates Them Now

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Portrait of happy Santa Claus reading Christmas letter or wish lAs if Christmas were not already a enough of a desperate consumerist rat race in the U.S., a shopping mall has actually started charging small children to sit on Santa Claus’ lap, and it’s not cheap, either.

According to the New York Daily News, at the Cherry Hill Mall in New Jersey, a seat on Santa’s knee now costs $35. Last year the mall’s Santa was free, and customers have been outraged by news that Santa’s lap was now commanding a price.

The mall said its “Adventure to Santa” was worth the $35 and included photos, a simulated sleigh ride, and holiday concerts. Parents did not, however, have the option of skipping all that and going right to Santa without paying the $35.

The fee-charging Santa is a noteworthy exception to the Santa rule. Even at other shopping malls, like Macy’s, sitting on Santa’s lap is free. Malls often charge for extras, like photo packages, but those are generally optional and having to pay $35 just to get a hug from Santa is unusual and decidedly un-Christmasy. It just goes to further the commercialization of Christmas, and on top of that it is just mean to exclude kids from Santa because their parents can’t or won’t pay $35 for an “Adventure to Santa.”

One mother said that when she asked if her child could sit on Santa’s lap without having to buy the photo package or pay for the rest of the “Santa experience,” and a mall employee told her to “go to the mall down the street.”

If a person wanted to get mad about the war on Christmas, this sort of thing seems way more anti-Christmas than any kind of red cup.

UPDATE: The mall has heard the many, many complaints about its Grinchy policy. The mandatory $35 fee has been canceled and a visit with Santa Claus is free again. Christmas is saved!

(Photo: Hasloo/iStockPhoto/Getty Images)