Visit by Santa among several upcoming attractions at mall

Black Friday — typically the busiest shopping day of the year — will actually begin Thanksgiving night at The Pines shopping mall in Pine Bluff, but the promotional event will include a Friday morning visit from Santa Claus and opening of a new business offering family entertainment.

Santa will be arriving at 10 a.m. Friday aboard a Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department firetruck, which will deliver him to Garfield’s Restaurant. From there, Santa — escorted by firefighters who will meet and greet awaiting children — will make his way to his sleigh, which will be awaiting him inside the mall.

Santa will then be available to see children, exchanging greetings with little boys and girls, checking to see if they’ve been good this year and learning what they may be wanting for Christmas. Individual photos and photo packages will be available for purchase.

The mall will open at 6 a.m. Friday, but Bath and Body Works, JCPenney and Sears will be opening at 8 p.m. Thursday night.

“The mall itself will not be open, but the mall entrance by the movie theater will be open,” General Manager Scott Green said.

Also on Friday, a new Pines tenant — Laser Zone: Laser Tag Arena — will be making its debut at 10 a.m.

“This is Pine Bluff’s first and only laser tag arena,” said Green, who noted that Laser Zone will be located next door to the Jack and Jill Funzone. “Laser Zone will offer a state-of-the-art arena with over 4,000-square feet of space. It also boasts a space alien theme along with thundering sound, fog and lasers beaming from all directions.

“Kids and adults alike will enjoy Laser Zone,” Green said.

Green said he appreciates the fire department’s support with Santa’s visit and knows children will be happy to see their firefighting heroes as well as Santa.