HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Santa was at the Parkway Place Mall in Huntsville on Sunday and his village was a little calmer than usual.
For the third year, the mall partnered with Autism Speaks, and The Riley Center, a nonprofit organization that provides services for children on the autism spectrum for "Santa Cares."
Santa Cares is a sensory-friendly event for children and family members with all spectrums of special needs to enjoy the time-honored tradition of the Santa Photo Experience in a calming environment prior to public hours. It is an opportunity for families to visit and capture keepsake photo memories with Santa, without sensory triggers such as music, bright lights, and mall traffic.
"Things like waiting in a line, or being in crowds, or having mall music and lots of shoppers wrestling by, that's really hard for some of these families and some of these kids and they deserve that time with Santa to be able to get that photo or tell them their Christmas wish list," said Parkway Place Mall Marketing Director Molly Mitchell.
Families enjoyed sensory-friendly activities and free snacks while waiting to individually visit with Santa. Organizers said they hope Santa Cares will bring smiles and holiday magic for many families who would not have the opportunity to visit Santa otherwise.