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Santa's marching into the Mall of America 2 weeks before Thanksgiving

There are actually a few different Saint Nicks at MOA.
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Target might be waiting until after Thanksgiving to break out the holiday decorations, but it's already Christmastime at the Mall of America.

The megamall wasted no time getting prepped for the biggest shopping season of the year. Two giant trees and a ton of lights and decorations were assembled in the rotunda earlier this month. Now it's time for the big guy in red to make his debut.

Santa's arrival ceremony is going to be a big to-do. Saint Nick will march into Nickelodeon Universe on Thursday night, accompanied by the Rosemount High School marching band.

The parade will kick off a holiday light show for spectators featuring lights, music, fog, and snow effects. After that, Santa will march over to Santa Land and begin meeting families for traditional photos.

Guests can sip hot cocoa while enjoying a bunch of other holiday activities in the rotunda, including letters to Santa, balloon artists, face painting and a "DJ Santa dance party."

The celebration kicks off at 5:30 p.m., and Santa will be available for photos until 9 p.m. 

If you can't make it, here's a complete listing of Santa's schedule this season. The holiday light show will play for mall guests every night through Dec. 24.

So many Santas

If you want to have your kid's picture taken with Santa, there are a couple of options at the Mall of America – Photos with Santa at Santa Land, which doesn't require appointments, and the Santa Experience, which is appointment only.

What's the difference? Mainly, you'll wait in line if you go to Santa Land, on Level 1 in the north atrium. Pricing between the two is similar – each offers a 5x7 print for $16 – but they each have their own unique packages available.

If you go with the Santa Experience, you'll have to book a time slot in advance. There are two locations in the mall – one on the first floor next to Macy's, the other on the third floor next to Best Buy.

While you're choosing a time, you also get to choose a Santa. There are four Kris Kringles to pick from (maybe don't tell the kids that.)

Santa Larry is back by popular demand this year. He's the Army veteran who made headlines last year when he became the Mall of America's first black Santa.

Larry will be in town from Nov. 30 to Dec. 8, and according to KARE 11, most of his openings are already booked.

Don't have kids? The Santa Experience will also offer pet nights on Nov. 19, Dec. 3, and Dec. 10. Photo sessions start at 7 p.m., with no appointment required.

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