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Michael Vosburg, Forum Photo Editor, Published December 21 2009

Christmas wishes: Children visit Santa at West Acres mall

They approach cautiously, nervously. The familiar stranger with a gentle voice beckons them, “Hi, come on over.”

Once close, he asks, “Can you tell me what you want for Christmas?” The answer is often whispered so as not to spoil the secret.

Other children are brought to Santa on Thursday for the keepsake photos made by Santa Magic in the West Acres mall in Fargo.

Randy Long, owner of the portrait business, has been making these seasonal pictures for 17 years.

His boisterous antics are designed to keep attention on him and distract the children from the fact that they are sitting on a stranger’s lap.

After the pictures are done, Santa turns to the children to ask, “What should Santa leave you on Christmas?”

Jack Gellner, 7, of West Fargo tells Santa his wish is for “that thing I wanted every year.”

“We’ll see if we can get that this year,” Santa says.

“Yeah, I got our fingers crossed,” says Mom.

“We’ll do our best, OK?” Santa tells Jack.

Some wishes are fanciful such as a diving dog with goggles. Many are popular, such as a Barbie doll or a “real, real, real, real kitty.”

All of them are duly noted, but none are promised.

And then Santa makes his own request, “Can I have a hug before you go? You can give me a hug.”

In response, Julia Crotty, 3, of Fargo stretches to get her arms around his broad shoulders. “Oh, nice. Nice,” says Santa.

Then each is offered a candy cane lollipop or two. “Take one for Mom,” Santa says.

As they leave, Santa offers his one last wish, “Merry Christmas,” till next year.

Readers can reach Forum Photo Editor Michael Vosburg at (701) 241-5516