Santa Claus has arrived at the Mall in Columbia.
"It took us no time at all to get here," said Santa about his trip from the North Pole as he sat in a red chair in the middle of the first floor of the Mall in Columbia.
"Mortimer the elf flies Santa down and then takes the sleigh to a nearby field not far from here where there is plenty of alfalfa and hay to feed the reindeer," added Santa.
On Thursday, Santa was greeted by about 300 kids during his first full day the Mall. Neaby, construction began on the two-story poinsettia tree that will fill the fountain.
Five workers were placing the approximately 800 poinsettias around the top, rigging them into irrigation lines that will provide water for the plants.
The poinsettia tree has been a fixture during the holidays at the mall since its opening in 1971, according to Michelle Jose, the mall's marketing manager.
In 2007, the mall decided not to install the tree, in favor of a new display, to change things up, according to Jose, but due to strong community reaction the tree was brought back the next year.
"They really love their traditions here," said Jose, "people really love to see the tree year after year."
To install the tree, the mall brings in a large aluminum structure that holds the plants, drains the fountain, cleans up the coins (which are donated to Habitat for Humanity) and then installs the red poinsettias one by one on the structure.
After the holidays, the mall lines up the poinsettias around the outside of the fountain and shoppers are encouraged to take the plants home.