TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - All was calm Sunday morning at the Franklin Park Mall. Not normally the sight many holidays shoppers see at all.
For many kids, seeing Santa to personally give him their Christmas wishes is a big part of getting ready for December 25.
Sadly, for many kids, the mall environment can be too overwhelming, especially if they are autistic.
That's why the Franklin Park Mall teamed up with Great Lakes Collaborative for Autism to create a soothing Santa experience.
"He knows how to connect with kids. So they have all the time to really get comfortable with it so they can have the best experience," said Catina Harding from Great Lakes Collaborative for Autism.
In the care of Santa Claus, children of all ages who have autism could have a special visit to share all of their Christmas wishes to the man in red.
"It's so cool that they do this. I love it. We did it last year. She just loves it. It means a lot. She likes to see Santa, but if there's too many people she won't go," said Jackie Tschan of her daughter.
Each family signs up for their own quiet time with Santa, so there's no need to fear.
Seeing the smiles on the faces of happy boys and girls warms the heart for the rest of the year.
"This has been such a heartwarming morning for me. It's a new event for me. It's been going on…but Catina from the Autism Foundation warned me that this would be my new favorite event, and it definitely is," said Casey Pogan with the Franklin Park Mall. "Seeing the kids get to have their moment with Santa…very special."
If you missed the opportunity for a special time with Santa, he will be back again Dec. 11 before the mall opens for normal hours.