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Santa opens Albany holiday season Friday (VIDEO)

St. Nicholas arrives at the Albany Mall slightly ahead of schedule

Santa Claus makes his first appearance of the 2013 holiday season at the Albany Mall on Nov. 22. After making the first donations to Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army's Red Kettle, he lights the mall Christmas tree and takes a train ride to his mall headquarters, where kids were lined up to tell him what they want for Christmas.


After lighting the Christmas tree, Santa takes his train to his headquarters at the Albany Mall, where kids were already lined up to meet St. Nick on his first night. (Nov. 22, 2013)


Santa Claus gets the crowd excited for the Christmas tree lighting when he arrives at the Albany Mall to officially kick off the holiday season. Santa made his entrance on the mall Christmas train, then made the first donations to the Salvation Army Red Kettle and Toys for Tots before lighting the mall Christmas tree and taking his train to his station, where kids were lined up to talk with him. (Staff photo: Jim Hendricks)

Santa Claus gets the crowd excited for the Christmas tree lighting when he arrives at the Albany Mall to officially kick off the holiday season. Santa made his entrance on the mall Christmas train, then made the first donations to the Salvation Army Red Kettle and Toys for Tots before lighting the mall Christmas tree and taking his train to his station, where kids were lined up to talk with him. (Staff photo: Jim Hendricks)

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Santa arrives Albany Mall

Santa Claus makes his first appearance of the 2013 holiday season at the Albany Mall on Nov. 22. After making the first donations to Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army's Red Kettle, he lights the mall Christmas tree and takes a train ride to his mall headquarters, where kids were lined up to tell him what they want for Christmas.

Santa Claus makes his first appearance of the 2013 holiday season at the Albany Mall on Nov. 22. After making the first donations to Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army's Red Kettle, he lights the mall Christmas tree and takes a train ride to his mall headquarters, where kids were lined up to tell him what they want for Christmas.

ALBANY — St. Nick made his annual debut Friday evening at the Albany Mall.

With a crowd of kids and parents waiting at the mall center court, where refreshments were served and Christmas carols were being sung, Santa arrived just before his announced ETA of 7 p.m. He was taken to the center stage by the mall Christmas train.

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Santa takes train at Albany Mall

After lighting the Christmas tree, Santa takes his train to his headquarters at the Albany Mall, where kids were already lined up to meet St. Nick on his first night. (Nov. 22, 2013)

After lighting the Christmas tree, Santa takes his train to his headquarters at the Albany Mall, where kids were already lined up to meet St. Nick on his first night. (Nov. 22, 2013)

Once on stage, St. Nick opened two charitable efforts at the mall, giving the first toy to the Toys for Tots program and dumping a jar of change he was said to have collected all year into the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle.

Santa then got the children in a roar as he magically lighted the center court Christmas tree and train sets, including coaxing a little snow to develop high in the mall ceiling. From there, Santa reboarded the train and was taken to his headquarters in the J.C. Penney wing, where kids were anxiously awaiting his arrival.

Santa will be at the mall evenings until Christmas Eve, when he’ll depart at 6 p.m. to return up north in time to begin making deliveries.