West Seattle holidays: Junction, Westwood Village Santa changes

With Christmas getting closer, you might be thinking about Santa Claus. He tends to appear in West Seattle’s two major shopping spots each season: The Junction, and Westwood Village. Both are changing it up a bit this season:

THE JUNCTION: We’ve already briefly mentioned this year’s schedule for Hometown Holidays (co-sponsored by WSB). The schedule includes three Sunday visits by Santa Claus, at City Mouse Studio and Store. The first two, December 4th and 11th, offer professional photographs, for a donation of (at least) $15 that benefits West Seattle charities; on December 18th, no photographer, but you are welcome to bring your own camera for a DIY picture with Santa (charity donations encouraged). The hours for all three Sundays will be 11 am-3 pm. You’ll find Hometown Holidays fun at California/Alaska 11 am-4 pm each of those days too, and mule-drawn carriage rides till 3 pm on Dec. 11 and 18. (Other HH events are listed here.)

WESTWOOD VILLAGE: When WSB Forums members wondered aloud about Santa plans for this year, Luckymom30 discovered a big change – Arthur and Associates is taking over. Westwood Village, you may recall, has new ownership, and new management; we pinged WV assistant general manager Andy Thompson to ask about the holiday change. He says, “It will be different, but … we think it will be better.” Instead of Santa making only weekend-afternoon appearances as in past years, he will be at WV daily from November 25th through Christmas Eve, morning through early evening. The center also plans to have carolers make regular appearances – Friday, November 25th, 11:30 am-1:30 pm, and then those same hours every Saturday through Christmas Eve. There’ll be a Giving Tree to help kids in need through the Salvation Army. (We are waiting to hear back from Arthur and Associates to confirm WV photo pricing; in past years, photos were free with a food-bank donation.) 2 other notes: “Black Friday” means 12:01 am Target shopping at WV, according to Thompson, and they’re working with Barnes & Noble on setting up gift wrapping “for the entire shopping center.” (We’ve already heard Sanislo Elementary is planning to be there on November 27th.)

ADDED 2:44 PM: Just heard back from David Mickelson at Arthur and Associates, who says they asked the popular Westwood Santa “if he would be interested in continuing,” but, Mickelson says, he wasn’t. Read on for more of what he had to say about their 68-year-old Seattle-based company and its Westwood plans:

Arthur & Associates is a family owned, Greater Seattle business that has operated continuously since 1943 (our office is in Ballard). Our company originally started the holiday tradition of sitting with Santa at the Downtown Frederick & Nelson department store. Aside from also doing the Easter Bunny in 3 locations, Santa Photography is all we do and we truly believe in what we do to make the experience special for our visitors. We have many examples of families following us through multiple generations and we sincerely hope to start a new tradition at Westwood Village for friends and families.

We take care to carefully train our photographers to take quality pictures while enjoying great relationships with our many Santas that all live in the area. I believe there are 2-3 gentlemen scheduled to work at Westwood and by next week their schedules with a picture should be up on our website. Currently, we have last year’s schedules, but we’re working frantically to get everything updated. Regarding the gentleman who has been at WV, we contacted him to see if he would be interested in continuing as we appreciate these traditions can be special. Unfortunately, he wasn’t interested so there will be a new face this year. We will be using more that one Santa because we will be operating a longer schedule than in years past from what I understand. We will be open Monday through Saturday 10am – 8pm and Sunday’s 11am – 6pm beginning Friday, Nov 25 until our December 24th closing at 5pm.

Photo packages start as low as $15 and products offered include Wallets – 5X7 w/frame, electronic images sent from our location to your email address as well as a Holiday Greeting photo that takes your Santa picture, and allows you to choose a festive frame and holiday salutation. You get to preview the pictures we take, choose the one you like and we will print everything on site for the customer to take with them.

We appreciate that no matter what we do, it will be different from what has been offered in years past, but we believe people that visit and get to know us will become friends, like others have over the past 65+ years.

40 Replies to "West Seattle holidays: Junction, Westwood Village Santa changes"

  • Christmasiscoming November 15, 2011 (1:11 pm)

    Westwood Village is definitely charging for Santa pictures this year and bringing in different Santas. The old Santa will not be back but look for him elsewhere in West Seattle to bring his magic.

    • WSB November 15, 2011 (1:17 pm)

      Do tell, where? – TR

  • smokeycretin9 November 15, 2011 (1:39 pm)

    yeah, this is probably the last year for our daughter and it would be nice to know where he will be at. He is the ONLY Santa we want and have pics with.

  • karen November 15, 2011 (1:46 pm)

    Yep, us, too. We want the REAL Santa!

  • A November 15, 2011 (2:19 pm)

    Lame WV! We’ll only go there if it’s the same Santa as years past. And the same deal – bring food for the food bank and get photos for free from Rite Aid. Please let us know where the REAL Santa will be this year?

  • Westside November 15, 2011 (2:33 pm)

    Agreed. That (the?) Santa rocks.

    • WSB November 15, 2011 (2:43 pm)

      Adding a response from the company that has been hired to do the photos this year. – TR

  • karen November 15, 2011 (2:58 pm)

    Nope. We don’t go to buy pictures. We go to visit Santa, help another child and the picture is a nice extra. We’ll wait to find out where Santa is going this year.
    I appreciate that this is a change and everyone complains about change. However, this seems to be changing from a great local tradition to just another commercial venture.

  • Dave November 15, 2011 (3:19 pm)

    In the forums posts, members said they are approaching Hotwire about recruiting [the real] Santa and doing photos there. I realize that’s likely a pipe dream, BUT the idea is a good one.
    If anyone has contact info for him, please let him know that there is a huge demand for him, and that it seems possible that someplace (if not Hotwire) would be willing to host.

  • A November 15, 2011 (3:57 pm)

    I agree. It is turning into a commercial thing. I liked donating food, seeing the same REAL Santa and the same photographer every year. We won’t be going there this year.

  • Lisa November 15, 2011 (5:07 pm)

    I did I contacted Hotwire, and I told them that it would be great to have people donate canned goods to the area food banks. So we will see.

  • smokeycretin9 November 15, 2011 (7:12 pm)

    Where ever Santa lands, we will be there. Please keep us in the loop. If you are reading this Santa, please land in W.S. so we can do the food drive again.

  • wsjeep November 15, 2011 (9:53 pm)

    Anyone in West Seattle can do a food drive, just contact the local food bank and they will help you set one up.

  • Christie November 15, 2011 (9:57 pm)

    our school, Highland Park, is having a holiday bazaar on Dec 10th – I would love to have the “Real” Santa come and do “Free” pictures for the community – let me know how to contact him.

    • WSB November 15, 2011 (10:16 pm)

      Wish I knew his name! For all the folks who have mentioned him – if anyone does, please e-mail us if you don’t want to post it here – I’d love to check in with him for a story. editor@westseattleblog.com

  • MaryCooks November 15, 2011 (10:19 pm)

    I have to say that for at least three years we had gone to visit the Santa at the Lake Forest Park Town Center which is operated by Arthur & Assoc. and all our experiences were very good. Their Santas are great! I just wanted to say some words of support and reassure you all the end is not near. ;)

  • DBurns November 15, 2011 (10:47 pm)

    As a Westwood Village Merchant I can assure you that there will be plenty of opportunities to donate to other families at the Santa House and at other businesses here.
    It’s true that we are changing things a bit but Rite Aid was very generous for a number of years, and the “real” Santa was not free!! So please be thoughtful and appreciative of the many free years of photos!
    It is my understanding that the previous Santa was approached by our management and asked if he would like to continue at Westwood this year and declined. I feel for the families who value holiday traditions and hope that you can find this man to take your photos with somewhere else, but I find it really odd that people are so angry (“Lame WV” – really?) about this change. The change also includes new times, more accommodating to younger kids, and I think the bio-photos of their Santas look pretty great!
    Happy Holidays to all of you and don’t forget that the majority of Westwood employees (privately owned AND corporate) are West Seattle residents just like you, and our businesses need support!

  • Neighborly November 15, 2011 (11:27 pm)

    His name is Kris Kringle ; )

  • A November 16, 2011 (6:45 am)

    Lame? It is lame DBurns. I am not interested in the commercial business of Santa photos. What they had worked for years and now the new people have to come in and change it. Still not going. Our son is 5 and we’ve gone there every year since he was born – including visiting the little shack that sat outside BBB. And I can only imagine the REAL Santa turning them down bc he also liked it the way it was. He worked weekends only for a few hours. It doesn’t need to be all day everyday. Again… LAME.

  • Sharon November 16, 2011 (7:20 am)

    Whatever happened to “The Christmas Spirit” You all sound so angry………..

  • Maria November 16, 2011 (7:57 am)

    Come on “A”, “lame”? That’s the Christmas spirit that your son will grow up with. Say “dude” while your at it. How can you not see it as commercial in the first place when Rite Aid was paying so that you can benefit. It IS a commercial. Fundraisers and donations at any retail establishment are commercials.

  • dameDonna November 16, 2011 (8:43 am)

    I would also like to know where the “real” WV Santa is going this year so we can keep the tradition for our daughter. I know that he used to work his off-Christmas hours at Holy Rosary school (I think as a janitor) until he retired a few years ago (maybe 5-6 years ago). I have a friend that is a teacher there and he knew him.

    TR, maybe you could contact them?

    • WSB November 16, 2011 (9:26 am)

      Some kind folks have e-mailed leads. Although I hope that perhaps “Santa” himself will read this and contact us (editor@westseattleblog.com or 206-293-6302 any time) directly :) so we can find out! – TR

  • Mary November 16, 2011 (10:05 am)

    Really? I cannot believe the anger expressed through these comments about “the REAL Santa”..Uhhh in case you forgot there is NO REAL SANTA!! Nonetheless the fact that folks are spitting anger about a joyous time of year that is supposed to be about giving, love, family, joy, kindness, etc you have really lost track of reality! Today someone found out they won’t live until Christmas, their son or daughter will not be coming home from war, their child was diagnosed with the unthinkable uncurable, and all you can do is rant and complain about a Santa picture…Have you ever heard of “make a NEW memory”? Did you hear…someone just lost their job, their home, their life…Find something pleasant and kind to say! How about, “Thank you Westwood Merchants for the many years of FREE Santa pictures” Happy Holidays…get a life!!!

  • andrea November 16, 2011 (11:01 am)

    Mary…! Thank you, I was in total shock reading the negative comments about the “real santa”. Crazy!

  • lulu November 16, 2011 (2:25 pm)

    Anyone if know if pets will be allowed in any of the Santa photos??

  • TammiWS November 16, 2011 (4:39 pm)

    Thanks Mary and Andrea – I agree and am shocked at this response. This has been “free” in everyone elses eyes but someone has paid for it. This sounds so selfish to me – and its Christmas photos no less.

    Has everyone been donating a can or two of food and happily walking away with a photo? Its a business – try going to the Bellevue Square Santa – you’ll pay $50 and wait for hours. This is a fair price.

    The kids care about sharing their wish list and getting a candy cane – let it go…oh, and go donate food to the food bank as well, they need it.

  • Cyndilu November 16, 2011 (5:31 pm)

    There will be free photos with Santa for folks and their pets at Prudential Jefferson Square on December 3rd. Here is a link to make a reservation. Donations of dog food, new doggie toys and $$ for Ginger’s Pet Rescue would be greatly appreciated!


  • Cynthia November 16, 2011 (6:38 pm)

    Mercy sakes all this negativity makes me glad I never started the Santa mess with my kids. Let’s focus on the real meaning of Christmas it certainly isn’t about entitlement!

  • Mags November 16, 2011 (6:41 pm)

    TammiWS- the Bellevue square Santa you mention? You know, photo for 50 bucks and long wait? It is same company Arthur & Associates that will be at WWV this year. We went there before we discovered “the real Santa”. Totally different experience.

  • amom November 16, 2011 (7:57 pm)

    So, so sad to say goodbye to our old Santa. There is something about the low-key approach that was in place that made the whole venture so much more fun. We switched to Westwood from Bellevue Square and never looked back. It was the small-town feel that was so nice. I don’t blame Santa for not wanting to take on a ‘corporate’ Santa position, but will really miss the no-fuss visit and seeing him. Bummer.

  • cmc November 16, 2011 (8:27 pm)

    Wow, consider yourselves extremely blessed if your biggest stress/concern this holiday season is the change in Santa photos at Westwood Village. Get some perspective, people!

  • Kat November 16, 2011 (11:32 pm)

    I read all the previous comments and put myself in the category of one who is content with a change at WV. For me, the “real” Santa is the one I visited each year as a child and young adult at the beloved downtown Frederick & Nelson department store. The photography was done quite well by Arthur & Associates. As for the comment about the “real” Santa taking on a ‘corporate’ position: Don’t forget that Arthur & Associates is a family owned local business that’s been around for almost 70 years! If you feel some need to drop off a can of food and get a free photo for your “good deed”, there are plenty of food donation bins in the grocery stores and I’m sure that by November 25th the “real” Santa will be tracked down thanks to the WS Blog If not-Start a new tradition and get over it.

  • RainyDay1235 November 17, 2011 (11:21 am)

    Also very interested in seeing where the traditional Westwood Santa ends up. He was perfect in so many ways and I would love to continue the tradition for my child with the SAME Santa. Watching this thread closely! Our backup will be Donna Ryan, but just so sad to see the change.

  • Donna Ryan November 17, 2011 (3:58 pm)

    I don’t put the Santa photo event on – it is sponsored by the Junction merchants to benefit the community. Although I am just the photographer, I do love the event due to the thousands of dollars we raise for Westside Baby, Food Bank and Helpline each year.

  • AHMOM November 18, 2011 (9:30 pm)

    The way the tyrants are going on here, I am surprised no one has mentioned Santa is Satan spelled differently. (I say this in jest!) Really, I agree with Mary – there are SO many things to be thankful for this holiday season! I’ve had photos taken all over the city with various Santas. My kids have never said “hay, you’re not the santa we saw last year!” THEY don’t care – so why should we?
    And if you want a LONG line – go to the Alderwood Mall for that Santa! Holy Jingle Bells!

  • reality check November 21, 2011 (5:35 pm)

    the “real” Santa?
    are you kidding me?
    I hate to break the news to some of you,
    but he wasn’t the “real” Santa.
    he was a guy with a beard and a suit.
    shhh, don’t tell your kids,
    but i thought the adults should finally know the truth.

  • Am November 27, 2011 (2:29 am)

    Just a thought- maybe the “real” Santa felt like retiring from the Santa biz? Maybe he’s snow birding it in Arizona and working part time as the new Santa in town. Sure hope the locals don’t think he’s lame…

  • Clary December 7, 2011 (12:48 pm)

    They have a schedule posted, and pictures of Santas (with their individual schedules, if you care which one). We just went to see Santa Al today and he was so nice and friendly. My daughter loved it.

  • Molly December 17, 2011 (11:30 pm)

    Kat – Thank you. I had the same thought. My mom took us every year to Frederick & Nelson to get our Santa pictures. When Freddy’s closed, she drug us all over creation to get our pictures taken by Arthur & Associates with the same backdrop so all the years would match. I was actually a little excited that my son will now be able to get his picture taken by the same *local, family-owned company* without having to wait for hours in line at the bigger malls.

    Start a new tradition. Lose the negativity. $15 is precious little to pay for your picture when you consider the overhead involved. Think of all the jobs that are being created – the photographers, the helper elves, the photo developers, the people who design the set, do the advertising, and of course, the Jolly Old Elf himself. As was previously mentioned, the old Santa didn’t work for free either.

Sorry, comment time is over.