e have wondered what would be in store for our local outlet mall after it was sold to Simon Property Group back in May. While signs out front still say “Woodburn Company Stores,” the name has changed to Woodburn Premium Outlets. We are told new signs will go up before the holidays.

Other changes at the mall could be noticeable during the holiday season.

For many Woodburn area kids and their families, Christmas season meant visiting Santa’s House. The custom-built house was a popular draw for locals, and meant not having to drive to Tigard, Portland or Salem to visit Santa and his decorative tree.

A Simon spokeswoman would not confirm whether Santa’s House would return, only saying that Santa will have “an appropriate venue” this year. She also said a Christmas tree would “most likely” return this year.

Simon also says a long-standing holiday tradition, the Fall Shopping Extravaganza, will be back next year after it was celebrated in March by the previous owner, Craig Realty Group. Simon says it is best not to do this traditional fundraiser twice in one year, in order to get more bang for your buck.

Simon officials are quick to boast that the mall is one of 65 malls under the Premium Outlets brand around the nation. But is that such a good thing? Locals appreciate the mall’s proximity. It is a critical local employer and provides a sizable tax check every year. What Simon doesn’t appear to understand is the importance of Woodburn traditions wrapped up in the mall.

The future of both these traditions appears uncertain at this point. We would like to agree with Simon’s claims that it is not the Grinch who Stole Christmas, but we will have to wait and see.

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