In October Corrie Swallow and his team created the largest haunted house in Saskatoon. Now less than a month later they’ve flipped the former scary space into the city’s largest COVID-friendly holiday event, Christmas at Grandma’s.
While many traditional holiday celebrations have been scaled back, Christmas at Grandma’s offers an excursion promoting Christmas cheer, all while staying in Saskatoon.
The yuletide adventure features decorated rooms, local vendors selling goods, and of course Santa Claus.
“Christmas is even more joyous than Halloween,” Swallow said. “So, we just can’t wait to bring that same cheer to everyone here as well.”
The conversion from Halloween to Christmas was no easy feat, requiring the help of a determined team who put in over 3,000 man-hours.
“With Grandma’s House, it’s Grandma’s House, so you don’t want to let grandma down,” Swallow said. “So, you do everything a little more detailed.”
One of the biggest motivators for Swallow to create Christmas at Grandma’s, asides from providing a holiday atmosphere to provide the public with a sense of normalcy was to also give them a place to easily shop for presents from local vendors.
“That was one of the big things for us,” Swallow said. “Support local, shop local, we wanted to bring local businesses in and make them a part of this even more so than we did with the 7 Deadly Sins (haunted house). ”
“I’ve been here since the beginning trying to create this, and bring it to life,” vendor Colleen Shalley said. “To see it here today is incredible.”
“I think it’s huge,” fellow vendor Sharlene Tetrault echoed. “You know, people are hesitant to come out, hesitant to go places. But, they’re extremely safe here.”
The group has gone above provincial guidelines to keep all patrons safe, dropping the building’s capacity from the required 25-percent, down to 15. They’re also providing hand sanitizing stations, keeping traffic flow in a single and marked direction, while also showing a safety video that greets you upon entering the building.
“We have our doorman that will give people a ticket, they’ll go back to their car, tune in to our radio station 99.3 FM, and when it’s their turn to come in, they hear it over the FM station,” Swallow explained.
Christmas at Grandma’s also offers the classic picture with Santa, taken by a physically distanced elf, all hands-free. The biggest difference between this picture and your regular mall Santa shot, the acrylic barrier separating Jolly Old Saint Nick and the child.
“Nothing is really happening in Saskatoon and we wanted to make sure that we did something that was safe for everyone,” Swallow said. “But, for people to also be able to enjoy the Christmas season and just smile.”
Christmas at Grandma’s runs until Jan. 3, 2021. Admission is $10.00 per person, or $30.00 for a family of four. Pictures with Santa are free, with a non-perishable food item which will be donated to the Saskatoon food bank.