By Betty Yu

PALO ALTO (KPIX) — For the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Santa Claus is back in Palo Alto the way most of us remember him.

Old St. Nick was well received on his first day on the job at a Palo Alto mall on Friday.

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This year, there’s no mask and no social distancing needed when seeing Santa at Stanford Shopping Center. Kris Kringle is vaccinated and getting up close and personal as he has in pre-pandemic years past.

Children sat on Santa’s lap and even played games with him.

Anna Wong of Los Gatos said she would consider taking her two-year-old to see Santa this year.

“That would be cool. She hasn’t seen Santa since she was really little, like six months. But I don’t know how she’ll react to sitting on Santa’s lap,” she said.

At nearby Town and Country Village, KPIX found folks ready to get in the holiday spirit.

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Simon Dimaio of San Carlos said he will likely take his son to see Santa this year.

“Nice to be able to get out again and for him to be able to mix with some of his friends,” he said.

When asked what’s the best part about being able to see Santa this year, his son Jordan Dimaio replied, “Because I get toys.”

Some people KPIX spoke with said they were looking forward to the holidays much more this year.

“Definitely a lot more optimistic. I feel much happier. I’m happier to be out with family and friends, I mean I’m at dinner right now,” said San Jose resident Kevin Nguyen.

Back at Stanford Shopping Center, there was no shortage of holiday cheer to go around. KPIX 5 photographer Bob Horn went beard to beard with Santa, and was offered a job on the spot.

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