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Preview Guide to Here Comes Santa Claus

Sleigh, what?! Here Comes Santa Claus presented by Altra Federal Credit Union is returning to downtown Rochester November 26! Believe in its magic with the following preview guide to this beloved holiday event hosted throughout downtown Rochester.

  Here Comes Santa Claus magic

Magical workshop (4 to 6 p.m.)

You can now be one of Santa's elves for a day with the Here Comes Santa Claus Magical Workshop! From 4 to 6 p.m. inside the Historic Chateau Theatre you'll find a place as magical as the North Pole. Neon Green Studio's Pop-Up Art Cart will have all the supplies for a craft kids can create and bring to the rescue to help Santa make it to ground safely. Santa's spouse, Mrs. Claus, will even join in the festivities by reading a holiday story live from 5 to 5:15 p.m.

Trolley rides (4 to 6 p.m.)

Giddy-up, Giddy-up let's go on the Rochester Trolley and Tour Company during Here Comes Santa Claus! While it doesn't go over the river and through the woods, it runs throughout downtown Rochester with stops near Santa's Magical Workshop (across from the Center Street Ramp) and at the Rochester Downtown Alliance office. The two trolleys will run on a continuous loop and are free to ride on a first come, first served basis. The last trolley will drop off attendees at 5:50 p.m. before the Santa rescue at the RDA location. Download a trolley map here!

Santa rescue (6 to 6:30 p.m.)

Now for the generational trademark feature of Here Comes Santa Claus: the daring Santa rescue from atop Old City Hall! Now don't ask why Santa struggles with landing in the Med City every year; no one quite knows the reason. Regardless, everyone from 1 to 92 is welcome to cheer on the Rochester Fire Department rescuing Santa and getting him down safely to be greeted by the crowd, Mayor Norton, and Mrs. Claus. (Remember to get out the Neon Green Studio craft you made so Santa knows you are cheering for him!)

Tree lighting ceremony (6:30 p.m.)

With Santa safely rescued, follow the fire truck carrying him, Mrs. Claus, and Mayor Norton to the tree lighting ceremony in Peace Plaza. Count down as Santa flips the switch to illuminate the gigantic tree and to help usher in the holiday season.

Photos with Santa (6:45 to 8 p.m.)

Before the children are nestled all snug in their beds, have your picture taken with Santa following the Peace Plaza tree lighting. Santa will greet families from within a giant snow globe. (This will be an outdoor, physically distanced opportunity in Peace Plaza for families to safely see Santa.) Talk about a holiday card- (or just Instagram-) worthy experience! Carolers will put us in a holly jolly mood with their musical renditions of favorite holiday tunes following the tree lighting ceremony!

  Altra Federal Credit Union's Drive for the Kids

Santa isn't the only one who can give gifts this holiday season. Presenting partner Altra Federal Credit Union is hosting an opportunity for you to give back to area youth through the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester with its Drive for the Kids. Here is what you can do:

  1. Gather up your new or gently used blankets, stuffed animals, art supplies and/or sports items.
  2. Bring them with you to Here Comes Santa Claus from 4 to 8 p.m. November 26.
  3. Drop them off in the bed of the red truck by the Peace Plaza tree.
  4. Feel good about sharing the love.

  Santa's Secret Song contest

Before Santa can come to town, the Y105 FM Early Morning Show with James and Jessica will give good little girls and boys the chance to win front row tickets for Mrs. Claus' story time and be entered to win the grand prize of a pass to skip the line for photos with Santa at Here Comes Santa Claus! Wake up with James and Jessica and listen for Santa's Secret Song to win. The contest runs from November 8 through November 24.

  Sweet treats

Need to warm up before or after being outdoors? Pop into the Historic Chateau Theatre from 4 to 6 p.m. or after the 6:30 p.m. tree lighting for delicious Santa-approved cookies (assortment of sugar, chocolate chip, M&M's, and brownie) donated by HyVee Barlow! Grab a hot cup of coffee or hot cocoa while inside to help spread the warmth all around, thanks to Olmsted Medical Center.

  Hearty meal

Bring your appetite (and cash) to Here Comes Santa Claus because Olde Brick House is serving up many food to warm you up from the inside out! On the menu are pretzels, beer cheese soup, bangers on a stick, Irish coffee, cider, and mulled wine. Please note: this is a cash-only feature of the event.

  Where to park

While you can't park on the roof of Old City Hall like Santa, you can keep your sleigh...we mean the following ramps while you enjoy the Here Comes Santa Claus merriment:

  • 3rd Street Ramp (closest to Santa rescue at Old City Hall)
  • Center Street Ramp (closest to Santa's Magical Workshop at Chateau Theatre and Peace Plaza tree lighting)
  • For other downtown ramps, click here. All City-owned ramps have two hours free parking through December.

  COVID-19 precautions

  • Masks are encouraged in indoors venues and crowded outdoor settings.
  • There will be hand sanitizing stations at each indoor location of the event.
  • Physical distancing is highly recommended when possible.

  More seasonal fun (Festival of Trees)

When downtown for Here Comes Santa Claus, take in another Rochester holiday tradition: Hiawatha Homes' Festival of Trees - A Celebration of Giving! And do it in style as the Rochester Trolley and Tour Company escorts you on its decorated trolleys along main stops of the event from 4 to 6 p.m. Or if it is a nice mild winter night, the Festival of Trees are viewable in a walkable route throughout downtown. A downloadable map of all tree locations can be found here!

  Here Comes Santa Claus partners are a gift

We're taking a pause for our Here Comes Santa Claus partners: Altra Federal Credit Union, Olmsted Medical Center, T-Mobile, Rochester Trolley and Tour Company, and the Rochester Symphony. Thanks for believing in this event and helping bring it to the Rochester community!

  Find out more about Here Comes Santa Claus here.