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Julia Fikse | The Feather Online

Holiday Magic Studios decorates the Santa village with lights, Christmas trees, and animated windows.

As gifts slowly show up under the tree, the excitement of Christmas is already building. With White Christmas, A Christmas Prince, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas showing on Netflix, plus Santa Claus Is Coming To Town on cable, why not meet Santa at Riverpark Fresno, CA? Children all over the Valley visit Santa and his elves to take pictures and share gift ideas.

Senior Annaleise Anderson spends her time during the holidays working at the check-in podium for Holiday Magic Studios. She thinks high schoolers having holiday jobs are great ways to gain experience and learn responsibility.

“I work here because it’s a great seasonal job,” Anderson said. “Working during Christmas provides a good source of income and it’s fun working with kids excited to go meet Santa.

“I have worked there for four years,” Anderson continued, “and have learned lots of customer service and how to work with frazzled people in a mature way. I’ve gained more of an understanding of the professional world. I’ve learned scheduling and have to prioritize work or fun stuff.”

Throughout the season, the shopping center decorated with a huge Christmas tree and lights creates a festive vibe for shoppers. The Christmas cottage prepared for Santa is located in front of the Edwards Theatre next to Five Guys restaurant. Families and friends line up outside of the Holiday lodge set up by Holiday Magic Studios. 

Morgan Parker interviews Peter DeYoung, CEO of Holiday Magic Studios, about how special the company is to him, Dec. 3.

CEO of Holiday Magic Studios, Peter DeYoung began his business of advertising with his son, building it up all the way to what it is now as the Santa studio. As well as Christmas pictures, they also offer the Easter Bunny for the spring.

“We have been with Riverpark for 20 years so far,” DeYoung said. “This became a real business just six years ago and every year we have been challenged to do something better with our studios. Our studio is unlike anything else in the world right now with the digital appointment making and great prices.

“There is nothing better than seeing a child’s eyes light up to see Santa which is really why I love doing this so much,” DeYoung continued. “We call it Holiday Magic because there’s no other word to describe that moment and twinkle. I do this because it is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is my personal commitment to show those that there’s a reason for the season.”

This company developed the World’s first tiny house photo studio with lots of new technology. There is a barcode on the receipt patrons receive to scan. That takes them to theHoliday Magic website for parents to access all of the pictures in just minutes. They are set out to portray Santa like Disney does and to do it better than anyone else in the San Joaquin Valley.

Julia Fikse | The Feather Online

Students visit Santa in Riverpark to participate in Christmas activities, Dec.3.

Pictures with Santa are taken inside with a set up of trees and Christmas colors. Animations are played in the side windows to create a magical touch. Different windows have different smells including cookies baking, etc. Inside the lodge, Santa sits in a big red chair with a fireplace by his side. The inside is small, but the space feels big with Santa’s open personality.

Santa is available every day leading up to Christmas Eve. Santa and the elves stay home after a busy night on Christmas Day, but he will be back December 27 for the final meeting session. On weekdays the times vary, weekends lean towards 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. Check out the Holiday Magic Studios website for all available times.

Alan Pettebone, enjoys portraying Santa and meeting families every year. He shares what is crucial to become Santa and why he loves doing it.

“I love my job! Some of the families have been coming to see me for ten years,” Pettebone said. “I love Christmas and children, so to share the magic of the holiday is why I do this. Showing the reason for the season is my calling you might say. Every moment being Santa is fun. I enjoy flying in each year on a helicopter and seeing the children light up. To become Santa requires a lot of things. Most importantly, it requires a warm and gentle heart, a nice full beard, and a round belly.”

Whether you are holiday shopping or out to dinner in the area, check out the Holiday Magic Studios website. Riverpark is also full of restaurants and shops as well as Christmas activities. Take your children or friends by the village and say hi to Santa or snap a quick picture.

For more holiday-themed articles, check out Stuffed animal drive to benefit Valley Children’s Hospital and Campus groups perform in ‘Lessons and Carols’ Christmas concert.

Morgan Parker can be reached via email and via Twitter.

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