ROXBURY, N.J. - If there's anyone willing to go everywhere and anywhere, it's Santa Claus. But – like the shoppers that quit going there long ago – even he isn't stepping foot in Ledgewood Mall this year.
Santa at Ledgewood Mall was a Roxbury staple. In fact, while stores in the failing shopping center went belly-up one after another in recent years, kids could still belly up to Old Saint Nick at the mall when Christmas approached.
Then came the eviction notice; The mall's new owners, who are planning big changes to the place, told Santa's handlers this year that they no longer wanted the jolly one.
"We were there for more than 20 years," said Forever Photos owner Barbara Moretti, the person behind Santa's legendary Ledgewood Mall appearances. "But they did not renew our contract this year."
However, the kids in girl and boy land - as well as those in Roxbury - need not despair. Moretti and Santa found new digs across town in Kenvil.
Father Christmas, on Friday, seemed happy with his new spot at Morris County EduCare's "EdVenture Land" in the Black River Plaza on Route 46. There was no piped-in Ledgewood Mall Muzak, no shining corridors, no easy access to Walmart, but little kids came and went, not at all upset that a tradition had ended.
In fact, the only concern expressed by anyone on hand, as noon approach, related to Santa's appetite. Clearly a spiritual being with some New Jersey DNA, the big guy asked if somebody would run and get him a Taylor Ham, egg and cheese