Black Friday takes on different look; Santa still to appear at Big Creek Crossing

Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News
Hadlie Orr, Hays, gives Santa a painted flower while visiting him last year at Big Creek Crossing in Hays. Santa will still appear on Friday with extra precautions in place.

There still will be Black Friday in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It just might look a little different.

National retailers with Hays locations, including Walmart and JCPenney, will not be open on Thanksgiving this year. Home Depot will continue its policy of not being open on the holiday. The Hays shopping mall, Big Creek Crossing, also is closed for Thanksgiving.

Walmart will open its doors at 5 a.m. Friday, while Home Depot opens at 6 a.m. Big Creek Crossing will open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Friday. Individual store hours may vary, but property manager James Younger estimated more than half of the 18 businesses in the mall will be open at 6 a.m.

Younger said there will be enhanced sanitizing and safety protocols at the mall this holiday season.

“We have hand sanitizing stations open at our entrances, as well as abiding by the city ordinance of a mask mandate,” Younger said. “We do encourage individuals to wear masks when they shop, and they respect social distancing.”

Coronavirus or no coronavirus, Santa Claus will be making an appearance on Friday, delighting both the young and those young at heart when his reindeer pull his sleigh into Hays, America at 10 a.m.

“Santa will be a little bit different than past years,” Younger said. “We’ve got a few different precautions that will be in place.

“It will be slightly different, but we find that our Santa program is a very critical part of the community,” he added. “We definitely feel that it is a very critical thing that we provide the community and kids with. We want to make sure we provide that experience in a very safe environment.”

One new addition for the 2020 holiday season is a 14-foot, live Christmas tree, which will be decorated and on display inside the main entrance to the mall. In years past, an artificial tree was used, but Ponderosa Tree Farm and Nursery -- which will sell trees in the mall parking lot -- donated the live tree.

“We are super excited to have a live Christmas tree,” Younger said.

Mall retailers will be excited for a busy holiday shopping season.

“A lot of retailers, a good majority of their sales happen during the holiday season,” Younger said. “The holiday season, we encourage people to give thought to shop at their local shopping mall, local in general.

“Retail as a whole in Hays has been affected by this pandemic,” he added. “We want to emphasize to the public to shop Hays, shop us, shop downtown.”