CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) -
Even in a tough economy the demands of the holiday season remain; for Santa and parents. That's why a Carbondale Santa says he's surprised with a trend he's seeing at the mall this year.
George Whitehead, who's been playing Santa for more than 40 years says this year it seems more parents are paying for their children to have pictures taken with Santa.
"I've been somewhat surprised by the number of higher priced photos being purchased," said Santa A.K.A. George Whitehead.
It may come as no surprise that with most family budgets stretched thin, fewer parents are paying to snap professional portraits of their kids throughout the year.
"Just to save money we took pictures at home; snap shots here and there, but didn't splurge to get the professional pictures," said Amy Bushong, a mother of two young boys from Mulkeytown.
Bushong says when her husband went back to school they had to cut back, and family portraits had to go.
"This is the closest to professional as we've gotten in the last year I would say," Bushong said. "It's important to have pictures, especially around the holidays. So when we got them today, we knew we needed to purchase them."
Whitehead, an Old Saint Nick with an eye for gifts, says he has a hunch the photos may be meant for more than just a picture.
"They can download them and make their own Christmas cards or make a mug for grandma and grandpa."
"Out of all the different things you can buy for Christmas people get worried and stressed out, I think photos are a really good way to go because it's something you'll keep forever," said Santa's elf/photographer Meghan O'Connell.
Parents don't have to pay for pictures to have a little time with Santa. Kids can tell Santa their Christmas wishes at Carbondale's University Mall for free through Christmas Eve.