Missoula's Southgate Mall is kicking off the holiday season on Wednesday evening with the traditional arrival of Santa Claus, accompanied by the Capitol Christmas Tree.

Marketing Director Trisha Shepherd said the staff at the mall has been preparing for the arrival of Santa Claus, who will be appearing at Center Court along with several musical performances.

"Along with Santa Claus, we also have the special opportunity to bring the Capitol Christmas Tree as it's making its way from the Kootenai National Forest in Montana to Washington,D.C.," Shepherd said. "The tree, of course, is 90 feet tall and will be placed outside the front entrance to the mall at 6:00 p.m. and then we'll welcome everyone inside where we'll have performances by the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theater. Santa will be here tonight to visit with the kids, do photographs and hand out presents."

Shepherd said the mall will have lots of interactive features for Missoula families throughout the holiday season.

"We do a lot of nonprofit events throughout the holiday season," she said "We have kids coats that we collect to be handed out to kids in need,": she said. "We also do a 'wish tree' where we'll have lots of gifts for children and seniors that might not get Christmas gifts this year, so we'll help out with that, and of course, we'll have many more opportunities to get together during the holidays with family and friends, where it's nice and warm."


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