It's a little different this year, but Gumdrop Square is off and running after the annual tradition kicked off Saturday with a visit from Santa Claus and opportunities for children to shop at Santa's Secret Shop. The elves wear masks and sitting on Santa's lap can't happen this holiday season because of the pandemic, but Santa still takes plenty of time to make sure he has the gift list just right for each child.

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Sarah Squire, of Warrenton, helps her 8-month-old son, Isaac, as he and his sister, Scarlett, 8, talk to Santa Claus at Gloria's Center for the Arts on Dec. 5.

Santa visits the Gloria Faye Dingus Center for the Arts at 92 Main Street, Warrenton from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Saturday before Christmas this year. (In past years, he visited the John Barton Payne building.) The music performance venue has been decked out with all the trimmings worthy of the North Pole's most jolly resident.

Families register at the back entrance to the building, off the 5th Street parking lot, where they can sign up for a time slot to meet Santa that day. (On Saturday, families never had to wait more than a few minutes for their time with Santa.)

Santa's Secret Shop is located at both Von Canon General Store and at The Purple Pumpkin on Main Street this year -- families can buy vouchers for the shop after meeting Santa.

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Scarlett, 8, hugs her 8-month-old brother, Isaac, as they talk to Santa Claus Dec. 5 at Gloria's Center for the Arts in Old Town Warrenton.

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Assisted by an elf, Elaina, 6, pays for the Christmas presents she picked out for her family at Santa's Secret Shop in Von Canon General Store. Behind her, Mrs. Claus helps Scarlett, 8, with her Christmas shopping.

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With a little help from her mom, Arabella, 2, presents her voucher for a Christmas present at Santa's Secret Shop at The Purple Pumkin on Warrenton's Main Street.

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Nancy Griffin-Bonnaire, an Experience Old Town Warrenton board member filling in as one of Santa's elves at Gumdrop Square, shows of the voucher design for Santa's Secret Shop this year.

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Ornaments made at Earth Glaze and Fire are available for purchase after families visit Santa Claus at Gloria's Center for the Arts.

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Experience Old Town Warrenton Director Charity Furness stands at the entrance to Gumdrop Square next to the 5th Street parking lot in Old Town Warrenton.

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Santa Claus chats with Ellie, 7, as her brother, 9-year-old Thomas, paints a ceramic gingerbread house at Earth Glaze and Fire in Old Town Warrenton.

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(1) comment


Wow! He actually looks like the Santas I remember from my childhood. Everyone should hire him!

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