Imagine having a child who doesn’t get invited to holiday parties because he or she is a little different than the other children. This child may be prone to act out a bit, or has trouble following directions due to their special needs. Other children can’t up help but stare when this child has a “meltdown” as Denise Redmond refers to it.
Fortunately, Redmond, the director of Carousel Ranch, offers an alternative party for special needs children during the holiday season that provides a safe place for them. During Holiday Santa Day at Carousel Ranch, no one stares when a child has a “meltdown.” Everyone understands what these children are going through from personal experience.
“It’s so hard to go see Santa at the mall because Santa doesn’t understand our kids,” said Redmond. “Your everyday Santa doesn’t necessarily have the patience for our population.”
For 19 years, Carousel Ranch has offered this holiday celebration that has expanded into a full-blown party where around 300 people take part in a petting zoo, arts and crafts, sweets, s’mores and much more. It has come a long way from starting at a parent’s house with only 25 people attending.
Among the children attending was five-year-old David Ganuza, who was attending with his family which included Lisette Ganuza. Lisette felt incredibly grateful for Carousel Ranch giving David, who has high functioning autism, an opportunity to celebrate the holidays in a safe place.
“He needed this,” she said.
“When he saw Santa come out of the corvette, he totally lost it.”
The local sheriff and California Highway Patrol also provided Toys for Tots for the children.
Holiday Santa Day is an extension of Carousel Ranch’s mission to provide support for special needs children through equestrian therapy and vocational studies.