Hungarian Santas ditch the chimney for the internet

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – With Hungary under partial lockdown to curb a surge in COVID-19 cases, several local companies have started offering online meetings with Santa Claus for children holed up at home with their families.



Ozzie Canseco et al. sitting at a table: Pillmayer, dressed as Santa, talks as he interacts with children by video, amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Budapest


© Reuters/BERNADETT SZABO
Pillmayer, dressed as Santa, talks as he interacts with children by video, amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Budapest

One of the Hungarian companies that normally rents out Santas for families and business events has come up with several forms of COVID-19-proof meetings.

They pre-record personalised messages and send them by post or provide online sessions with Santa greeting children from his home office with a Christmas tree and festive lights glistening in the background.

“Which child would expect that while watching some video on a laptop with Mom and Dad, suddenly Santa appears live and calls them by their names,” one of the Santas, Pal Pillmayer said.

“I think this will be a much greater joy and happiness this year,” said Pillmayer, who has several online meetings scheduled for the coming days.

Janos Nemes, a pensioner and part-time Santa, who sat in a studio for a whole day recording messages for children said he will miss greeting them.

“I do miss the magic and the sometimes very moving personal meetings.”

(Reporting by Krisztina Fenyo; Writing by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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