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Santas are still spreading joy — even from six feet away | Morning Newsletter

The non-COVID-19 “infection” that cost a beloved organization $923,533.

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

Good morning.

First: Even Santa has to pivot in a pandemic. Here’s how St. Nick impersonators (Santa’s official reps) are adapting to keep the magical tradition going. One encouraging outcome of this year: plenty of kids’ lists of demands are looking selfless this year.

Second: Cyber theft is the non-COVID-19 “infection” that cost the charity Philabundance almost a million dollars when thieves infiltrated its system.

And: Yesterday was a big day for online shopping. Here’s just how big.

— Ashley Hoffman (@_ashleyhoffman,

Representing the world’s most famous merry man does not stop for a pandemic, it’s just different. The idea is to avoid spreading COVID-19 while spreading cheer naturally.

With that in mind, Kris Kringles are doing things differently for the annual visits. Think socially distanced photo shoots for little believers. But lap-sitting allowed.

Most important of all, Ho, ho, hold still so I can take your temperature. How Santas are spreading holiday cheer this COVID Christmas.. Now let the Santas speak already.

Philabundance recently fell victim to large-scale cybercrime at a time when its services were never more essential in this pandemic. Thieves used a “phishing” scam to invade the charity group’s computer network and cannibalize its tech networks. They successfully blocked real incoming emails and then sent an email that really did a number on them. It imitated a construction company invoice that led the charity to pay a hefty $923,533 to a fraudulent account.

Hurting an organization so well-respected that’s feeding people in the midst of the economic downturn of our time could have had truly unfortunate consequences. Here’s what you need to know.

Helpful COVID-19 resources

  1. Check the current coronavirus-related restrictions in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

  2. Can you travel this winter? Should you? How is it safe to travel? What about a hotel?

  3. What are the first symptoms of the coronavirus and what are the differences between COVID-19, the flu, a common cold, and allergies?

  4. When should you replace your cloth face mask?

  5. Track the spread of COVID-19 infections in the region.

  6. Sign up to get free coronavirus news updates in your inbox three times a week.

What you need to know today

  1. It’s still too early to track the spread of the coronavirus related to Thanksgiving gatherings, but officials advised anyone who traveled to quarantine. What’s more, the guidance is to hunker down for all winter celebrations. (Hanukkah’s first up next week.)

  2. Pennsylvania will not be requiring schoolchildren to get vaccinated before going back to school next year, Health Secretary Rachel Levine said yesterday. And New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy urged anyone who gathered with non-household members this Thanksgiving to get tested, but said anecdotal evidence suggested most residents kept the festivities small. And here’s all the latest coronavirus news you need to know.

  3. About $7.7 million in federal aid would go to Philly renters struggling to make ends meet under the Kenney’s administration’s plan to dole out the latest round of coronavirus relief funding. Here’s what we know so far.

  4. Ever since Oregon decriminalized drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine earlier this month, Philadelphia officials are paying close attention.

  5. Customers spent plenty when they skipped crowds in favor of shopping online to curb the spread of the coronavirus. And how did Cyber Monday deals compare to Black Friday discounts anyhow

  6. The Eagles were doomed to yet another loss. They fell to the Seattle Seahawks 23-17 in primetime.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

We can still get reflective when it rains. Thanks for sharing @StrangerPhilly.

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout-out!

What did 2020 look like through your lens? Tag your best photos from this year on Instagram with #OurPhilly by this Friday, Dec. 4 for a chance to be a part of our Year in Pictures. Our photographers will pick their favorites to feature in a community gallery on

That’s interesting

  1. 🦅 We got down to counting our blessings in Philadelphia sports and surprisingly, some unexpected names popped up.

  2. 🎄 There’s high-quality entertainment programming for your dose of family fun this week. There’s a walk-through a million holiday lights to Santa popping by South Street.

  3. ⌨️ Philly Tech Sistas wants to break down barriers to ensure local women of color get the skills to enter the tech industry. This is the latest entry in our Future of Work series.

  4. ⚾ This just dramatically altered every baseball player’s path to get on the Phillies.

  5. ⚽ Review: A theater’s first Zoom performance is a worthy, intense show about the friendships and rivalries of warrior soccer athletes.


“The deep American value of personal liberty — the freedom to make choices in our own lives — does not apply to the decision to wear a mask. This liberty is valid only as long as the choices you make do not harm me. This was said best in a statement often attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes: ‘The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.’ ” — Neil Skolnik, M.D., a professor of family and community medicine, writes that until the vaccines become available and immunize millions, everyone’s actions affect the lives of all of us.

  1. Public space blogger Conrad Benner writes that inviting us to partake in ice skating and Christmas Village shopping and the simultaneous guidance that we’re all safer at home just sends a mixed, disjointed message.

  2. POWER in Philadelphia Board Member Frances Upshaw writes that it’s time to stop treating the living wage conversation like it’s a partisan issue.

What we’re reading

  1. Artists of color are turning boarded up businesses into works of art, transforming pain-inducing wooden “monuments” into messages of justice and love, the Philadelphia Tribune reports.

  2. People are still reeling from the end of The Undoing, the psychological thriller starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant that kicks off with the killing of a mistress. The actor who plays a powerhouse attorney on the show everyone’s talking about did an interview with Collider about her process. Or just watch Hugh Grant dance in Love, Actually again. That’s another way to go.

  3. No music festival, no problem. Philly Mag spotlights a couple who brought the best of the fest to their nuptials.

Your Daily Dose of | Home

Meet the first couple ever to move into this shiny new Habitat for Humanity guesthouse for the holidays while their home is getting major repairs. They won’t be able to return home for a few weeks, so Habitat even served up all the trappings of their Thanksgiving feast complete with fixings, decorations and all.