For almost 50 years, Kingsway Mall has provided Edmontonians with a full-service shopping experience. But in the last few years, it’s doubled down on becoming more of a community hub, where everyone can get together, support local craftspeople and non-profits, and most importantly, take adorable pics of their pets. Marketing Manager Bo Tarasenko says the number one thing they try to do is be a “good public citizen by connecting with people and building a community with them,” and there’s no better time to build community spirit than the holiday season.
Each Christmas, mall staff stay outside of mall hours to assist children and families with sensory sensitivities and mobility issues to get a Santa photo in a sensory-friendly environment. It’s one of the most accessible holiday traditions in town.
“Sensitive Santa is one of our favourite programs that we run every year. It allows for so many more people to be able to be included and feel welcomed during the holidays, and to have a Santa experience that may be difficult to otherwise have.”
The Sensitive Santa appointments are just that — by appointment — and they’re after mall hours, so there won’t be any lineups to worry about. And the music will be turned off, so it’s a much more calm and sensory-friendly environment.
“One of the most heartwarming things is that we see the same families coming back year after year, and we’ve actually got to see children growing up this way, because every year, they look forward to coming back again and again. The reaction is just thankfulness —everyone’s just thankful to have the experience, and thankful that they were able to share this cool slice of the holidays with their family.”
The last Sensitive Santa visit will happen on December 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Pre-book a time online now.
Whether you get them special treats, special sweaters or even a seat at the dinner table, it’s always nice to incorporate your pets in Christmas festivities. And, if you’re going to do all that, you should commemorate your efforts by getting professional photos taken of them (in their Christmas sweaters, of course).
“We know that for many of our visitors, pets are just another member of the family. There are so many people that want to include their pets in whatever the holiday is, so we try to make that possible for them. And it’s always gone really well.
“Pet Photos with Santa is really simple: On Tuesday evenings, people can drop by with their cats or dogs for some of the best holiday photos they can get.”
Stop by any Tuesday evening (3:30 to 7:30 p.m.) until December 20 for some fantastic furry photos. And even if you’re pet-less, it’s a great time to get some last-minute shopping done before stopping by Santa’s Court to see the pet photos and go Aww!
Wrap and Roll
For 10 years, volunteers with the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation (EPSF) have wrapped shoppers’ gifts at Kingsway mall in exchange for donations to the foundation, raising tens of thousands of dollars along the way.
“The Edmonton Public School Foundation does so much for schools in our area. And I will say that they wrap the most beautiful presents in town. It’s all volunteer-led and 100 per cent of proceeds go to the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation. And it’s all by donation, so whatever you’re able to give at the time of donation. One hundred per cent of that goes to Edmonton Public Schools.
It’s a full community initiative, and different high schools seen to step up every year, and this year, we have the leadership students from Scona High School. But they absolutely always need volunteers so if someone is looking to help wrap, they just need to get a hold of the Public Schools Foundation to get involved.”