Caring Santa caters to children with special needs

By By Nichole Osinski / American Press

Children with special needs will have the opportunity to meet and take photos with Santa — minus the lines, rush or noise

that usually comes with Christmas photo sessions.

On Sunday, Dec. 2, the Caring Santa photo session will be set up in Prien Lake Mall before normal mall hours to create an

environment that supports the children’s sensory and physical needs.

“We previously did the Caring Easter Bunny event. This is our first time doing this for Christmas,” said Nikki Goss, director

of marketing and business development at the mall. “It’s such a moving experience to see the kids light up and take it at

their own pace.”

The event is part of a nationwide project for special-needs children and their parents. The elimination of lines, crowds and

music helps create a sensory-friendly environment for the children.

“This is something we want to continue in the future,” Goss said. “We’ve had a really great response from not only the parents,

also the educators of the children. We’re really thankful to have support from the community to do an event like this.”

The free event, which will be wheelchair accessible, will be 9-11 a.m. in the Sears/Dillard’s court. Children will also be

provided with snacks and activities.