Miller Hill Mall Santa set goes high tech

Miller Hill Mall Santa set goes high tech

For years Miller Hill Mall officials have wanted a new Santa set for children’s visits and photos with Santa Claus during the holiday shopping season.
The current set — Santa’s house with trees with lights, old-fashioned street lamps and a white picket fence — has been used at the mall for 35 years. And when it arrived, it already had been used at Maplewood Mall in the Twin Cities.

“It’s showing its age; we can no longer fluff it up,” said Machelle Kendrick, the mall’s outgoing marketing director who was among those lobbying owner Simon Property Group for a new set.

This year the mall got its wish.

Miller Hill will be one of only 11 Simon malls getting new, state-of-the art Santa sets with LED lighting synchronized to holiday music. That’s 11 out of Simon’s nearly 290 malls in the United States.

“We’ve been asking for a long time, so it’s big news to us,” Kendrick said.

The new set has an open layout with a photographer’s station on one end and a large red Santa chair on the other, backed with a display of illuminated frosted tree and reindeer cutouts on bases. Both the bases and cutouts provide the light show.

“It’s a totally different concept, so it’s kind of a big deal,” Kendrick said.

The Duluth set cost Simon nearly $60,000.

The look is simple, modern and sophisticated. But its minimalist style may leave some longing for a more traditional holiday scene with Christmas trees, giant candy canes and artificial snow.

Many parents have brought their children every year, getting pictures with Santa in the familiar old set. But this year, the set will be significantly changed.

“I personally liked the traditional house, but I embrace change,” Kendrick said. “A lot of people will enjoy the magic of the music and the lights.”

Simon’s malls are categorized in five levels based on size. Duluth’s Miller Hill Mall is a level three, while Simon’s largest mall — the King of Prussia mall in Pennsylvania — is a level five. It’s also the largest mall in the United States by square footage of store space.

Miller Hill Mall got the latest Santa set for Simon’s level three malls. But it’s smaller and simpler than what the level four and five malls will get. The bigger malls will get more elaborate sets that have more lighted displays with the addition of lighted arches,

The new set is scheduled to arrive this week and take at least two days to set up in the Barnes and Noble court because of all the electrical work. Testing and rehearsals to ensure it’s working properly will follow.

“To coordinate the lights and music is no small feat,” explained Kendrick.

It will open Nov. 12 when Santa arrives at the mall with fanfare.

Those who miss Santa’s house will get a chance to see it one more time.

It will be set up at the outside entrance to Dick’s Sporting Goods, with a “for sale” sign on it during the holiday shopping season. But it’s all in fun, said Kendrick, who figures it’ll only hold together for one more season.

Please click for an important message from our Executive Director on connecting with the Chamber during the COVID-19 Crisis.