Taking a photo with a mall Santa is a tradition for many, but it often requires a long wait in a crowded line up and a rushed moment with Mr. Claus. These circumstances can be a barrier for some and the Sensitive Santa initiative at Tillicum Centre provides an alternative.
Rebekah Kasper, spokesperson for Tillicum Centre, explained that the Sensitive Santa initiative is “meant for people who need quieter time with Santa.”
People can pre-book 10-minute sessions with jolly old Saint Nick between 11 a.m and noon on Sunday Dec. 1, 8 and 15 as the mall staff understand that long lines and crowds can be very difficult for some.
Kasper emphasized that the bookings are reserved for those with autism, chronic illness and varying levels of abilities, not for skipping the long lines. The mall relies on the honour system as folks will not be asked to prove their need for time with Sensitive Santa.
The sessions aren’t rushed and include patient staff – Christmas elves and trained volunteers from Community Living Victoria will be there to help the families – and of course, a very patient Santa.
Sometimes Santa needs to wait a long time for the visitor to be ready for a photo as many are nervous and sometimes there are emotional moments to wait out, Kasper explained. Other times, no photo is taken at all as the visitor would prefer a conversation rather than a photo.
Kasper noted that everyone is welcome to come down to spend time with Santa regardless of their needs and age – there is no age cap for the sessions so anyone wanting to spend some time with Santa is welcome.
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