PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) — The city is used to tourists coming from far and wide to visit the Smoky Mountains, but the response from around the world for the chance to visit virtually with Santa was even more than tourism officials could have imagined.
More than 500 free virtual chats with Santa were offered on a first-come, first-served basis by the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.
Santa chatted with boys and girls from California, Oregon, Washington, New York City, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas and Massachusetts. A few families in Canada, Brazil and Sweden successfully made the connection, too.
The program concluded on Dec. 15 to allow Santa to begin preparations for his around-the-world dash on Christmas Eve.
“Visits with Santa are a much-loved tradition, but Santa faced some challenges this year due to the pandemic,” Sue Carr, Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism’s marketing manager, said. “We wanted to help families continue this tradition, so we worked with Santa to provide virtual chats … to create some Christmas cheer at a time when we all need it so very much.”
The scope of participants came as a surprise to Carr and other city officials, but the children’s reactions were every bit as heartwarming as expected.
“We witnessed some touching and magical moments for families across the country. Each exchange between Santa and the children underscored the power of a little Christmastime magic this year,” Carr said.