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How Galleria Dallas is Keeping the Holiday Spirit Alive in the Midst of a Pandemic

The shopping center is maximizing empty space with a luxurious dessert pop-up, an Instagram-worthy holiday-themed photo gallery, and more.

D Magazine

Written by: Ellie Beeck

With the holiday season fast approaching and the COVID-19 pandemic still looming large, malls across the country have been forced to eliminate or otherwise change their classic holiday plans.

Trademark Property, the real estate company that owns the Galleria Dallas, knows that some holiday traditions are too special to put on hold. They have spent the past six months coming up with pandemic-friendly ways to ensure that certain traditions, like seeing Santa Claus and the tree lighting ceremony, can still occur. Plus, the shopping center has opened its doors to luxury candy maker Yasmeen Tadia’s dessert omakase Make Your Life Sweeter and local photographers—and MOTUS creators—Scot and Kristi Redman’s second iteration of the immersive Snowday Dallas.

The Galleria, which traditionally hosts more than 7 million shoppers during the holiday season, equating to 30 percent of their annual traffic, has been at the forefront of research and innovation to help keep its patrons safe while still giving them the holiday experiences they expect. Chuck Steelman, vice president of experience for Trademark Property, has helped design and implement the safety processes for these old traditions while also coming up with new ones to help keep the holiday spirit alive.

“It’s been a really stressful time for many families, so we thought, why not try to do something where we can make families feel safe and welcome, and allow them to have some normalcy during the holidays,” says Steelman.

For three decades, thousands of North Texans have come to visit Galleria Dallas and the country’s tallest indoor Christmas tree for its famed Grand Tree Lighting Celebrations, where dozens of Olympic and world champion figure skaters have joined Missile Toes, Galleria’s back-flipping Santa, and nearly 100 youth skaters in free performances that run through the holiday season. This year, COVID-19 has forced a change in the event.

Instead of hosting five free public shows with unlimited attendance, Galleria Dallas has partnered with the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center to create one extraordinary, private, socially-distanced event featuring world-class skater Mirai Nagasu. Families attending will be assigned to a private pod, where they can enjoy the holiday magic while safely distanced.

Steelman says he recognized that many non-profits had lost the chance not only to engage with their audiences but to solicit new donors, and he resolved that Galleria Dallas could become a community asset rather than simply a retail center.

Some of his other changes include converting an unused retail barricade into a makeshift art gallery. Groups ranging from Make-a-Wish to Susan G. Komen, from Fashion Group International to Chamberlain ballet, utilize the space to create exhibitions, auctions, and engagement.

Next, the team reimagined how…

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