ARCHIVE: Santa, Baby!: See and Be Seen With the Big Guy [on S.A.’s Northwest Side]

Story and photograph by Pamela Price

Note: This story originally appeared in the November 2010 issue ofLeon Springs Community News. A related story can be found here.

A watchful nutcracker guard at Bass Pro Shop.
Somewhere between now and Christmas-and assuming you’ve got kids, odds are good that the topic of visiting Ol’ Saint Nick is going to come up. Maybe you just want a picture of the kids with the jolly old soul for your Facebook page. Or perhaps the youngsters have a pressing desire to put in a few good words for themselves and their favorite toys. Whatever the motivation when Virginia or Timmy bring the topic up in the coming weeks, you’ve got three options that don’t involve a long sleigh ride, er, trip.

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shop ( – Over the dry creek bed and up the buzzing interstate you’ll go to The Rim for this one, easily the most elaborate and festive photo stop in San Antonio. The stage is set at the mega-store’s entry. Greeting customers near a fireplace is a tall, elaborate tree. Around the corner, a winter wonderland comprised of lots of lights and fake snow awaits. It’s populated by unusual toys and, of course, the star of the show: Santa himself. A 4×6 photos with the big guy is free, with various photo packages available.

In addition to the pictures, kiddies can pop in each week to make a different holiday-themed craft (think popsicle-stick Rudolphs for the tree) and score the popular plastic Silly Bandz in various shapes. For the crafts and rubbery bracelets, supplies are limited, so you’ll want to review the schedule online (check out the virtual Santa!). The bonus for the Bass Pro Shop option? Outdoorsy parents can take turns getting their fill of all the fishing, hunting, camping gear, too.

From November 8 to December 12, Santa is slated to be on hand at Bass Pro Shop weeknights from 5pm-8pm, Saturday from 10am-8pm, and Sunday from noon to 5pm. From December 13 to December 23, Monday through Saturday hours are 10am-8pm, Sunday noon to 5pm. There are bonus hours on Thanksgiving Day (10am-5pm), November 26 (9am-8pm) and Christmas Eve (10pm-5pm).

La Cantera Santa ( – It’s a suburban American December tradition: pairing a Kris Kringle photo op with a trip to the local mall. No surprise then that La Cantera hosts visits by St. Nick each year. To make it easy on families, the photo area is situated conveniently in the Food Hall near the Kona Restaurant and Barnes & Noble with ample parking. Word is that the La Cantera elves have lined up those highly coveted holiday plastic bracelets to give away, too. Tip: visit the La Cantera Web site for a printable $2 off Santa Photo coupon redeemable through December 9.

At press time and per the mall’s web site, Santa’s hours, beginning on November 26 are Monday through Saturday: 10am-9pm; Sunday: 12pm-6pm; Christmas Eve: Open all mall hours.

Santa Express Central ( – Got a family-friendly holiday party planned where Santa would be welcome? Know a few parents on your block who’d be interested in chipping in to bring him to your street? Then consider a quick call to Santa Express Central to explore your options. This popular San Antonio-based business will help you schedule Santa, Mrs. Claus, Frosty, Rudolph, Prancer, and the Gingerbread Man. A photographer can be hired as well, though you can just as easily snap your own photos at leisure during the visit. Hurry-December’s booking schedule fills very quickly. For more information, call 210-385-4721.

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