‘Caring Santa’ offers sensory-friendly visits for East Texas kids with special needs
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - While his elves are busy getting toys sorted and presents wrapped for kids all over the world, Santa Claus made some visits with kids in Tyler on Sunday.
Three-year-old Elijah Brown was so excited to visit with Santa that he didn’t waste any time getting to him. He got to sit on Santa’s lap and chat with him, all while in a quiet environment. According to his mom, Taylor Brown, this isn’t always how these visits go.
“He’s never done that good, so it was great. I know last year we waited in line for probably 30 minutes and it was a nightmare so this was a blessing, very much so,” Brown said.
Elijah has autism and moments like this mean a lot to them. The program is called ‘Caring Santa’ and allows families with special needs children to book private sessions with the man in red. Candance Foster is the Marketing Director for Broadway Square Mall and said they’ve been doing this for about 15 years.
“It takes a little bit for the kids to warm up to the idea so the families really take the time to speak to the kids about what’s about to happen, to prepare them for their visit with Santa,” Foster said. “The kids have a chance to get used to the environment before they come up to Santa and they can take all the time they need for them to get comfortable on set so that they can get a good picture.”
“One, two, three. Good,” one of the photographers said while trying to snap the perfect picture.
With the mall music off, and no crazy crowds, families get the chance to enjoy the moment and make memories, stress free.
“You see kids that don’t have the special needs that get to do this all the time and they’re comfortable, where as kids with special needs, they’re not so comfortable and they get a little more scared than most kids do,” Brown said. “This way they get to enjoy it just like regular kids and it’s great.”
Elijah even got a special extra visit while he was coloring.
Elijah even got an extra visit from Santa while he was coloring.
“That’s a good job. I think I know that elf,” Santa said.
The Caring Santa event was just for today. Santa Claus will be at the Broadway Square Mall taking pictures with families through Christmas Eve.
Copyright 2022 KLTV. All rights reserved.