5 ways to make the most of your Santa visit in Naperville

Each December, excitement builds as children wait their turn to whisper their wish list to the jolly old elf. We have it on good authority Santa especially loves the time he spends in his magical little house on the Riverwalk in downtown Naperville.

His elves have been busy getting the Santa House at Jackson Avenue and Webster Street ready and sent these tips along to help you make your visit to the Riverwalk merry and bright.

1 Ready, set, ho ho ho! Santa House opens to the public Dec. 5. Weekend visiting hours are noon-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 20. On select week nights, Dec. 11, Dec. 15-18 and Dec. 21-23, Santa House will be open 4-8 p.m. Admission is always free. Don’t miss the special nights: Special Needs Nights are just for families with special needs. Wait lists are available for Dec. 1-3. Santa has special times for a Military and First Responders Night on Dec. 8. And Santa does love pets (if those playful reindeer are any indication), so waitlist reservations are being taken for Pet Night on Dec. 9. Reservations for the three types of special nights must be made online at the park district’s website.

2 Preserve those smiles. Watch your children enjoy their special time with Santa and capture the moment forever with a photo. Snap your own or buy photos taken by Naperville Park District staff for $8 each or two for $15. Don’t worry about the tears on the newbie Santa babies – those photos will be precious for years to come.

3 Help the kids secure a spot on Santa’s nice list by teaching them that it’s always better to give than receive. Let them really feel the spirit of the holidays by helping others. The Santa House is a drop-off site for brand new, unwrapped Toys for Tots, Dec. 2 through Dec. 16. New unwrapped toys brought after Dec. 16 will be donated to local charities.

4 Get in the holiday spirit by stopping by the 19-year-old spruce tree donated by Nancy and Bill Boyk of Naperville. When the Naperville Park District turned off the Dandelion Fountain for the winter, the tree was placed in the Riverwalk plaza across from Nichols Library. The beautifully decorated tree, a manger and a menorah will definitely put you in the spirit.

5 Busy hands make happy kids. Friendly volunteers, including middle school and high school students, greet visitors and provide coloring pages and children’s books to help pass the time as they wait to speak with Santa. After helping Santa check his naughty or nice list, get some shopping done at nearby shops and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate and cookies (we know Santa would approve.)

Now in its 14th year as a Naperville Park District event, Santa House is made possible by community volunteers and sponsors, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Fifth Third Bank, Naperville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Whole Foods Naperville, Rocket Ice, Living Well Dental Group, Instructional ABA Consultants, K Hovnanian Homes and Two Bostons.

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