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Santa sits with special needs children

Posted at: 12/04/2012 4:21 PM
Updated at: 12/04/2012 5:45 PM
By: Amanda Ciavarri

It is a tradition for many families going to see Santa Claus, but that can be an overwhelming experience for some children with special needs. Now a program at Eastview helps make it easier.

Santa sees children with special needs every Tuesday in December for an hour before the mall is open. That means it is less crowded and quieter so the kids can get more one-on-one time with Santa. For some of them, it is the first time they have been able to see Santa.

It's a program that makes it easier for children with special needs to see Santa. When you think of visiting the man in red,  you think of long lines and lots of noise and bells. But at Eastview Mall, every Tuesday in December before the mall opens, Santa comes to talk to boys and girls with special needs.

Santa said, “If you notice there are no bells. There is no jingling around. I usually wear bells and have bells that jingle, but we forgo those during this time when the special kids come in, so it is a quiet environment.”

This is the second year of the program.

Santa said, “A lot of them, it is their first time cause they get so flustered waiting in the long long to see Santa.”

A group of children from Wayne Middle School came out Tuesday morning.

Kathy Lamanna, Wayne Middle School teacher, said, “Sometimes it is a little tough going and seeing Santa, right? It's a lot of fun, but it's a little nerve racking sometimes. So this is a great opportunity for us to come, early morning, and Santa is just a wonderful wonderful man.”

And one-by-one the kids all had their special time to sit with Santa. And while all the kids told Santa what things they wanted under the tree and how good they had been this year, one boy told Santa about his wish for someone to get better soon.

This moment with Santa is something they look forward too.

Lamanna said, “They knew we were coming down weeks ago and they counted down to today. And just going to see Santa is pretty special.

And they walk a way with a smile and a memory they won't soon forget.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus also have a special connection to this. They have a grandson with special needs. Santa said it is very important to him to be able to talk to all these kids. The program is every Tuesday in December from 9:00am to 10:00am at the Eastview Mall. For more information on the program, you can call Eastview Mall at 585-223-4420.