City to offer sensory-friendly holiday event for children with special needs

Santa Claus pays a visit to Main Street in Newhall during Light Up Main Street on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Ryan Painter/The Signal.

Holiday events often bustle with excited children and their families as they see Santa Claus, but these environments aren’t always the friendliest to individuals with special needs.

To accommodate children with special needs, the city of Santa Clarita is presenting a sensory-friendly holiday event at the Canyon Country Community Center, at 18792 Flying Tiger Drive.

The event is scheduled 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday.

“This is the first time we are offering this event,” said Janine Prado, the city’s Recreation and Community Services Division manager. “We wanted to offer a holiday event that works for their preferred environment and sensitivity.”

The event, Milk and Cookies with Santa, is a free storytelling and cookie-eating gathering for children 12 and under and their families. Children will also have the opportunity to share their holiday wishes and get their photo taken with Santa Claus.

The setup includes dim lights, reduced sound levels and sensory-friendly activities for attendees.

“When Santa comes in, it’s usually really loud and busy, creating a pretty overwhelming atmosphere,” Prado said. “But this sensory-friendly event tones down the overall volume so that a child can enjoy it at their level.”

Prado said this is just one of the ways the city offers programs for residents with special needs, which also include camp opportunities and adaptive classes such as ice skating.

Because Milk and Cookies with Santa is a brand new event, Prado said it is important to reserve a spot as soon as possible.

All are welcome to the event, but the city is requesting that each group attending does not exceed five people. To reserve a spot, attendees can register in person at the community center or by calling 661-290-2266.

For more information, call Julie Calderon, community services supervisor at 661-250-3719.

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