Remember photos with Santa? The long, emotional wait in line? The sign that read 1,505 MILES TO THE NORTH POLE? The realization that the big man’s beard detached from his face? If so, you’re likely now shepherding your kids — or grandkids — through a similar ritual. And you’re likely introducing them to a St. Nick who gets his paycheck from Cherry Hill Photo. Now in its 50th Christmas season, the Marlton firm provides Santas to nearly 400 shopping centers from KOP to San Diego, California— making it the world’s largest mall Claus-ier. Through the years, says company president Ed Warchol, the Santa biz has really evolved: from 35mm film to Polaroid to digital. (The company’s first digital cameras, jet-pack-sized, cost $13,000 each.) From a two-week wait for photos to a “fast pass” online system for pre-ordering with short-line privileges. From faux to natural beards. But, he’s quick to note, some things never change — namely, “the number of crying children.” Ah, tradition.
What Santa and Snooki Have in Common
Originally published in Philadelphia Magazine, December 2010