Santa's magical arrival at Schaumburg's Woodfield Mall on Thursday morning kicked off the 2012 holiday season -- more than two weeks ahead of Black Friday.
The event began with a performance by illusionist Walter "The Spellbinder" King, whose finale was to make Santa appear from thin air.
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The North Pole's most famous resident then led children and families on a parade around the mall before returning to the central Grand Court that will serve as his headquarters until his round-the-world trip on Christmas Eve.
Santa will soon be visiting other shopping centers throughout the suburbs as well, but Woodfield wasn't even his earliest appearance. He's been meeting with children for photos at Yorktown Center in Lombard since last weekend.
Arrival events are scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at Deer Park Town Center in Deer Park; 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee; 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at Stratford Square in Bloomingdale; and 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23, at Geneva Commons in Geneva.
Outside of specific events, Santa will be at Westfield Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills during regular business hours from Friday, Nov. 16, and at Westfield Fox Valley Mall in Aurora from Saturday, Nov. 17.
Westfield Old Orchard in Skokie will have Santa in for a visit during a tree-lighting event beginning at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 1. A Menorah lighting takes place at 5:45 p.m. Dec. 8.
Beginning Friday, Nov. 23, Santa will be at Charlestowne Mall in St. Charles from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, and from noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Christmas Eve.