Who or what is Santa Claus? The name is a shortening of Saint Nicholas (270–343), who was an Orthodox bishop in Myra, Turkey. His association with gift giving to children comes from his feat of late-night giving of gold to a poor man whose daughters needed a dowry in order to get married and thus avoid a life of destitution and possible prostitution.
Another epithet of Santa Claus, however, is Kris Kringle, which literally translates as the Christ Child.
On the other hand, Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” describes Santa Claus as an elf. Contemporary embellishment makes him a kind of super-elf or elf king, presiding over a North Pole fiefdom in which other elves work to make toys for children all over the world. Santa Claus is possessed of a divine omniscience and supernatural powers that he wields with benevolence.
Santa bears a remarkable resemblance to Father Christmas or Papa Noel found in many European countries, to Old Man Frost of certain Slavic countries and the gnome-like Tomte of Scandinavian Countries.
Both elves and gnomes may hint at a pre-Christian origin to this mysterious gift giver that comes around the time of the winter solstice.
Whoever he may be — elf, gnome, saint or divinity — Santa Claus is coming to town. During the next few weeks, there will be ample opportunity to see and to visit with Santa Claus in one guise or another.
Santa Claus appearances in the greater Tacoma area
- Santa visits Watson’s
Fri., Dec. 1, Fri., Dec. 8, and Fri., Dec. 15, noon to 4 p.m.
Watson’s Greenhouse and Nursery,
6211 Pioneer Way E., Puyallup
Santa will make his yearly visits to Watson’s in December. He will be there from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 1, 8 and 15. Visiting with Santa is free of charge. Professional photography is not provided so you will need to take your own pictures.
- Santa Photo Sessions
Through Dec. 3
2502 Tacoma Ave., Tacoma
No need to stand in a long line at the mall. At Riandi Photography you will get a full Santa Claus experience, with dress up, a play area, crafts and goodies. You will get to view your portraits shortly after your session. Base package is $35, includes the session and two 5x7s.
Need a family portrait? Riandi Photography can kick Santa out of a few to get you an updated holiday family portrait.
Cost: Base package is $35
Info: message or text (253) 310-8904 or visit riandiphotography.com
- Tacoma Mall Photos with Santa
Through Dec. 24
JC Penney Court, Tacoma Mall
It’s time for holiday photos with Santa. Save time, avoid the line. Now you can reserve your magical moment with Santa online at simonsanta.com.
- Breakfast with Santa: Festival of Trees
Sat., Dec. 2, 9 a.m.
Greater Tacoma Convention Center,
1500 Commerce St., Tacoma
Enjoy breakfast and stories with Santa, a special performance from Recess Monkey and other fun family activities.
Cost: Tickets: $45 (age 13 and up), $25 (children 3-12), children 2 and under $5. Tables available for $350 (10 seats)
- Santa at W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory
Sat., Dec., 2, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory,
316 S. G St., Tacoma
Come see the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory beautifully decorated for Christmas along with Santa and his Reindeer. Memorialize the holidays in the beauty of the conservatory with a professional photograph with Santa for $15. Cookies, crafts and jolly good times will be provided.
Cost: $3 suggested donation
- Sing-Along with Santa
Sat., Dec. 2, 10 a.m.
Tacoma Musical Playhouse,
7116 6th Ave., Tacoma
Santa Claus is coming to Tacoma Musical Playhouse. Santa and the TMP elves will be at TMP to kick-off the holiday season. There will be singing of favorite holiday carols, with live accompaniment, and a special story reading by old St. Nick himself. After the sing-along, children will have the chance to meet Santa and give him their holiday wishes. Bring your family, friends and camera. A professional photographer will be provided.
Cost: $10 general seating
- Santa Paws
Sat., Dec. 2, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Tacoma Subaru, 3838 S Tacoma Way, Tacoma
Santa is coming to Tacoma Subaru. All welcome: pets, kids, friends and family. No fur required. Bring the smiles, we’ll bring the cookies.
As always, this event is free, however, Tacoma Subaru asks that you consider a donation of pet food/treat/toy (cash is also accepted) to support the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County right here in Tacoma.Tacoma Subaru will be accepting donations all week, just drop by the showroom and place your donation under the tree.
- Santa Visits Old Town
Dec. 2, 1 p.m.
Job Carr Cabin Museum,
2350 N. 30th St., Tacoma
Santa visits Old Town is a free, family-friendly event. The Job Carr Cabin Museum invites the community to celebrate the season at Tacoma’s birthplace. The cozy cabin fireplace is the perfect setting for your keepsake Santa picture. Bring the whole family and make a memory.
Attendees can enjoy live musical performances by local holiday choirs. Children can create a seasonal take-home craft while they wait for their turn to visit with Santa. Cookies and hot chocolate provided by Old Town businesses — while supplies last. Digital Santa photos provided by Lena Peterson Photography. Photos will be available for free download within one week of the event. Bring a bag of non-perishable foods to fill the collection box for St. Leo’s Food Connection.
Cost: Pay as you will
- Puyallup Lighted Santa Parade
Sat., Dec. 2, 5 p.m.
Downtown Puyallup along South Meridian
Bring the kids down to welcome Santa. See the jolly old elf arrive on one of Puyallup’s finest fire engines. Included in the festivities is the Holiday Market (noon to 7 p.m.) in the Pioneer Park Pavilion and the lighting of the community tree in the park. This wonderful community tradition is a great way to kick off the holiday season. Nibble on cookies and sip on hot cocoa as you watch the lighted delights pass by.
- Hilltop Santa
Sat., Dec. 2 and Dec. 9, noon to 3 p.m.
901 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma
Parents/guardians are welcome to bring a camera or use phones to take photos of their little ones on Santa’s knee, and each child will receive a special gift from Santa. It was about eight years ago that Reynolds first donned his authentic Santa outfit in order to bring joy to community children who may have a lean Christmas. Santa is gratefully accepting donations of candy and treats, toys and small gifts for boys and girls. Anyone who would like to help out can leave donations at People’s Barbershop, open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Info: Contact Mr. Reynolds at (253) 576-0321 or (253) 341-3510
- Kiddo Karaoke with Santa & Buddy the Elf
Sun., Dec. 3, 1-3 p.m.
Odd Otter Brewing Company, 716 Pacific Ave., Tacoma
What’s better than day drinking at your favorite family friendly brewery? How about your favorite family friendly brewery that hosts Kiddo Karaoke with Santa and Buddy the Elf? Stick around for Polaroid pictures afterward.
- 6th Ave Santa Parade
Sun., Dec. 3, 4:30 p.m.
6th Avenue, from State to Alder, Tacoma
Come out to 6th Avenue and enjoy some family holiday magic. Entertainers will be performing at 2:30 p.m. at Crescent Moon Gifts’ parking lot (2502 6th Ave.). Parade starts at 4:30 p.m. and includes drum line, bands, floats, lights, Grinch, Whos and Santa.
- Party and Pictures with Santa
Sat., Dec., 9
Kumon, 5703 N. 26th St., Tacoma
Don’t miss Santa’s visit to Kumon. Get a Free Family Picture with Santa. Kids will also be able to decorate cookies and make crafts.
- Santa at America’s Car Museum
Sat., Dec.9, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 16, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 17, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Lemay Car Museum, 2702 E. D St., Tacoma
Santa and Mrs. Claus are driving in to ACM this holiday season to upgrade their ride. Join the Claus family for a photo op in a 1906 Cadillac Model K Tulip Touring Car. Kids receive a free slot car voucher for the ACM Speed Zone. Santa photos are included with ACM admission as a digital download. Also for the month of December, bring a new, unwrapped toy donation to Santa’s Castle Toy Drive and receive $2 off ACM admission.
Cost: Museum admission
- Pints with Santa
Fri., Dec. 15, 6-9 p.m.
Pacific Brewing & Malting Co.,
610 Pacific Ave., Tacoma
Enjoy a pint with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Ticket includes a picture emailed to you the next day. This event is family friendly, but please remember that it does get very busy. So, grab a beer and relax in the taproom with all the other hard working elves. Disclaimer: Santa will be drinking beer in your pictures. Mrs. Claus is DD that night.
- Breakfast with Santa and the Grinch
Sat., Dec. 16, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Portland Avenue Community Center,
3513 E. Portland Ave., Tacoma
Santa and the Grinch are back with another “funtabulous” breakfast. There will be arts and crafts, face painting, performances and breakfast to enjoy. Space is limited so reserve your spot today. The spots are $8 for Tacoma residents and $10 for non-Tacoma residents. Kids two and younger are free. Breakfast seating times are 9:15 a.m. (sold out), 10:00 a.m. (sold out), 10:45 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
- Breakfast with Santa at Norpoint
Sat., Dec. 16, 9 to 11 a.m.
Center at Norpoint,
4818 Nassau Ave. NE, Tacoma
Bring the family to enjoy a pancake breakfast and visit with Santa. Participants can have pictures taken with Santa, send letters to the North Pole and create holiday crafts.
Space is limited. Sign up in advance to guarantee your spot.
Cost: $10 per person (before Dec. 16), $15 per person (on Dec.16)
Info: (253) 404-3900 or metroparkstacoma.org/calendar/index.php?cid=7666
- Breakfast with Santa at Sprinker
Sat., Dec. 16, 9 a.m. to noon
Sprinker Recreation Center, 14824 C St. S., Tacoma
Santa flies into Sprinker one December morning. Bring the kids for some holiday cheer, waffle breakfast and the chance to whisper Christmas wishes to the jolly old fellow himself. Santa will be available in his Christmas chair with digital photos included. Then finish off the morning with holiday ice skating under a snowflake filled sky (indoors).
Cost: $9 per person includes breakfast, digital Santa photo and ice skating
Info: (253) 798-4000 or facebook.com/events/1927528810907821/
- Santa Breakfast at Meeker Mansion
Sat., Dec. 16, 10 a.m.
Meeker Mansion, 312 Spring St., Puyallup
Reserve your table for a special Meeker Mansion breakfast and a visit from Santa. Reservations are needed.
Info: (253) 848-1770 or meekermansion.org
- Puyallup Tribe Christmas
Parade & Tree Lighting
Sat., Dec. 9, 5-8 p.m.
Emerald Queen Event Center, Tacoma
Bring the family to the Christmas Parade to help kick off the Christmas season. Santa and his helpers will be passing out candy along the parade route. There will be more fun in the EQC I-5 Event Tent following the parade. Sponsored by the Puyallup Tribe.
- Santa at the Model Train Festival
Fri., Dec. 22 and Sat., Dec. 23, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Washington State History Museum,
1911 Pacific Ave., Tacoma
History and holiday magic unite at the Washington State History Museum during the Annual Model Train Festival in December. This museum-wide event for families, railroad buffs and model train enthusiasts showcases the ost spectacular and detailed model railroad scenes in the Pacific Northwest — including the largest permanent model train layout in Washington. Please note, the Washington State History Museum is closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Santa Claus will be available for pictures with you and your family on Dec. 22 and 23. The free pictures will be instantly e-mailed to an address of your choosing, so bring the kids and let the magical holiday memories commence.
Cost: museum admission