My Mall of America Experience

Written by Matt Martino

The first weekend of December brought the start of the holiday season, as well as the start of the holiday shopping season. We know how hard it is to get our Christmas shopping done, when you pile it up on the one-thousand-and-one things you need to do before December 25th.

A small group of clients of St. Coletta, including myself, received the trip of a lifetime to the largest shopping destination in the United States, the Mall of America.

During our trip, we stayed at a Fairfield Inn that was only a block away from the mall proper. This was the second time I had been to the mall, the last time was in 2006, and much has changed since then. The mall was in the process of the start of a $200 million expansion that would build into the north parking lot of the mall. The expansion had included a hotel and more mall space, but the hotel was the only thing that was finished; no construction was present.

The mall was exceptionally more modern, the redesigned north atrium where we entered Saturday morning looked like I was in Cloud City on the planet Bespin; pristine white walls and lighted contours gave an elegant, yet casual look. Giant metallic snowflakes hung from the ceiling, and changed color from white to blue. Periodically, you would see Christmas trees, candy canes, and toy soldiers line the concourses of the mall; two of the trees were so tall that they went all the way to the fourth floor!

Crowds were an issue, but it was December so it wasn’t that much of a shock.

Santa had his photo-op outside of Macy’s (no surprise there) and most of the stores were offering exclusive holiday deals; Lindor’s for instance, offered free samples of their world-famous truffles. A more memorable purchase for myself occurred at Build-a-Bear Workshop (a toy store that allows customers to make personal stuffed toys).

 

Most of you at St. Coletta may be aware that I am a brony, an adult male fan of the My Little Pony franchise; but mostly its reincarnation Friendship is Magic. I am not the only one, there are at least two others in the Genesis program who are pegasisters (female fans). Most of my collection includes vinyl figures, shirts, and some stickers; but my biggest thing is plushies.

I entered the store thinking they would only have the most popular characters; and that another Rainbow Dash, despite having four of her currently, wasn’t going to hurt me; when I saw them.

Poking her midnight blue head out of a bin with around twenty-some odd clones of herself, was a Princess Luna plushie. I immediately was pulled to her, my inner child almost exploding with excitement, and then I noticed among the sea of navy blue/starlight manes and almost glowing blue eyes was something white. Something with elegant eyes that carried a regal kindness to them.

I was floored.

What were the odds that I would find not just one of the alicorn princesses of Equestria, but two? And two of the hardest ones to shop for?

Yet, there she was, a lone Princess Celestia among a field of Lunas, with my inner child and inner fanboy screaming in unison; “MINE!!!Of course, I don’t listen to those two much; so I tried to act as a thoughtful older brother/nephew/cousin buying for his younger cousin/niece/sister, and failed due to the fact that my sister was twenty and was more into Frozen and the stupid and almost insane grin that was on my face.

The cashier was nonchalant about the whole Twenty-two-year old man with a scruffy beard buying ponies for himself situation. “You’re not the only one,” she said as my plushies were stuffed, fluffed, and given showroom treatment “I got a sixteen year old son who loves that show, and our manager goes to the conventions and has a life-sized Fluttershy that our 7 year old loves to death.”

It’s moments of acceptance and tolerance like these that make me feel that we as humanity can coexist despite conditions such as race or religion. And that makes me a really happy guy.

 

The rest of our day was amazing, we got to see the amusement park that was built inside the mall although we could not afford it ($65 per person!) and were excited to check out the shark aquarium. We later found out that one of us spent too much on shopping and could not pay for the aquarium. Our staff Erica, not wanting anyone of us to be left out, proposed the idea of seeing a movie instead.

Amusement park, shopping, an aquarium, and a theatre?! Was there nothing that this mall did not have?

We went to see the Disney film Moana and enjoyed the rest of our day just enjoying the holiday season, with all the lights and decorations.

 

I would like to thank St. Coletta for the trip, as well as Erica Bailey who staffed us during our stay in Minnesota, and would like to experience another trip like this sometime in the future.

THANK YOU ST. COLETTA AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!

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