Santa celebrations kick off across metro Atlanta -- with a twist

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — On Thursday night, several cities in metro Atlanta kicked off their annual holiday festivities -- but like a lot of things this year, the celebrations looked a little different.

Channel 2 Cobb County Bureau Chief Chris Jose was in Marietta, where Santa made an appearance to light up the Christmas tree in Marietta Square.

In years past, Santa would hop on a fire truck and ride to the square to greet children. This year, he didn’t stay at the square long, but hopped on the fire truck and went neighborhood to neighborhood to spread good cheer.

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Firefighter Steve Dau drove the jolly old elf.

“It’s a huge responsibility,” Dau said. “I have a 10- and 6-year-old who think this is one of the coolest things that I can do.”

Dau knows a thing or two about Christmas festivities. Every year, he decorates his Kennesaw home to raise money for the Children’s Burn Foundation. The display is called “Riley’s Rockin’ Christmas.”

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Marietta’s Santa Blitz will happen Thursday and Friday nights and on Saturday morning.

At Vinings Jubilee’s annual Christmas tree lighting, masks and social distancing were required.

Mom Amanda Constantinides took her 7-year-old to catch a glimpse of Santa from a safe distance.

“We’ve got to keep Santa safe so he can do all the work that he can and get those toys to the kids on time,” Constantinides said.

In Acworth, Santa appeared behind a shield at the Cabela’s store. It meant the world to Charlene Harris to be able to bring her kids to see him despite the pandemic.

“Having that picture each year kind of shows how they’ve grown that year,” Harris said. “It is different, but at least they can comes still see Santa and get a photo. And everyone is protected.”

Cabela’s assistant general manager Robert Lionetti said families check in on a mobile app and that no more than six families are spaced out in 15-minute blocks.

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