San Jacinto Mall threw a Christmas party Saturday and people came out to celebrate the holiday and the final days of a Baytown establishment.
The food court was filled with kids and parents to see Santa Claus while getting faces painted, gifts wrapped and writing letters to St. Nick. Outside of the food court, there was a line to take pictures with Santa Claus and a bigger line to take advantage of a sale at Bath & Body Works.
It was a sampling of better days from the past and hoped for better days in the future of a renovation project that will make the property a destination once more. Mall manager Mary Evans said there has been traffic in the mall despite the changes brought about by the first stage of demolition.
“We have had some activity,” she said. “People are coming in to Christmas shop. They are going to the shoe stores and the anchor stores. The other stores also have their loyal customers. We are excited the community has supported us.”
Because it is the last Christmas for San Jacinto Mall, Evans, whose forte is event planning, put a party together. The response was larger than anticipated, not that anyone minded.
“We are just trying to make it a good holiday for the kids,” she said.
Other than JCPenney and Macy’s, the shops in the mall will close down Jan. 5. Evans said the mall was staying open into the beginning of January to give customers an opportunity to return gifts if needed. After Jan. 5, the doors will be locked. Phase II of demolition has been scheduled to start at some point in 2020/. Evans said the date is not written in stone at this point with a date to be determined.
Patricia Smith has been coming to the mall since the 1980’s. She was in attendance to say goodbye to the end of an era with good memories to take with her.
“I will remember all the good times, all the wonderful and beautiful shops,” she said. “I spent a lot of money here.”
Smith’s favorite store at the mall was the old Montgomery Ward. She recalled furnishing her house from the once popular department store.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the future and all the shopping.”
Eva Fontenot spent part of the day at a table as kids lined up for activities to carols from the Sterling Swing Choir. She too remembered the mall from its early days.
“We saw the mall come up from the first piece of sand,” Fontenot said. “Our neighbor was superintendent of construction and he said there was going to be a big building with a lot of stores. I didn’t believe it, we has hog crossing signs on Garth Road.
“I just wanted to pay more last respects I guess.”
Fontenot said her favorite memory was going to the mall on Saturdays.
“It was safe and getting to see all my friends,” she said.
She is hopeful of seeing another safe environment when the renovation is completed.
“It will be easier for the older people to come out and shop,” she said. “It will really help people come and enjoy it more.”