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'Special Santa' lets special-needs children participate in tradition

Nov. 27, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

BARBOURSVILLE -- Some beloved holiday traditions can be overwhelming for children who have special needs.

But a local event seeks to ensure that all children can participate in at least one tradition: a visit with Santa.

"Special Santa" will be available at the Huntington Mall in Barboursville from 9-10 a.m. Saturdays, Dec. 1, 8, 15 and 22. Children can visit with Santa and have a photograph taken in a controlled environment. The event will be held at Santa's living room in Center Court. It is sponsored by JeffersonWhitney, a Hurricane, W.Va.-based financial planning company that has an increased focus on special-needs clients.

"Eliminating the busy mall environment and providing a more calm experience will help families continue the tradition of visiting Santa," according to a news release from JeffersonWhitney.

There will also be a "Sensory Friendly Waiting Area" to provide a calm environment for the children until their turn to visit with Santa during regular hours, from 8:30 a.m. until noon, providing activities geared toward children with sensory disabilities. Some activities are bean bags, an activity center with puzzles, coloring books, etc., bead curtains to name a few.

And from 6-8 on Thursday, Dec. 20, there will be a "Family Fun Night" in the Community Room for families with special needs. A Christmas movie will be shown, and gluten-free snacks will be provided, as well as a craft corner for children to create their own Christmas ornament. Children can also take a train ride on the "All Smiles Aboard" train in the mall.

Photos and a special gift will be provided to participants.

For more information, please visit www.jeffersonwhitney.com.

Here are some other chances to visit Santa this season:

Photos with Santa, now through Monday, Dec. 24, Ashland Town Center Mall. Visit www.ashlandtowncenter.com for detailed hours of operation.

Opening Night for Holidays at the Highlands, 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, at Highlands Museum and Discovery Center, 1620 Winchester Ave., Ashland, Ky. Activities include gingerbread house display, stained glass display, holiday music, pictures with Santa and light refreshments. $15. Call 606-329-8888.

Visits with Santa at Ashland Central Park, Ashland, Ky., Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 16. Visits take place in the log house. Call 606-324-5111.

Breakfast with Santa, 8-11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, VFW Post 9738, 227 Main St., Huntington. Buffet breakfast featuring biscuits, homemade gravy, fried potatoes, friend apples, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and drinks, plus gifts for kids. Cost: $6. Call 304-523-9738.

Breakfast with Santa sponsored by WWOL, 10-11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Main Branch of Boyd County Public Library, 1740 Central Ave., Ashland. Call 606-329-0090.

Breakfast with Santa, 7 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Evan's Heavenly Harvest Food Pantry, 831 Virginia Ave., Huntington. Santa will be on hand to have breakfast with kids. Pancakes, sausage, gravy, biscuits, eggs and milk are on the menu. $5 per plate. All proceeds go to Evan's Heavenly Harvest Food Pantry. For more information, call April at 304-417-2399.

Breakfast with Santa and Vendor Fair, 8-10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Conner Street Elementary School, 445 Conner St., Hurricane, W.Va. Pancake breakfast and photographs with Santa, $5. More than 30 vendors, from locally made crafts and clothing to direct sales companies. Lunch items will be available as well. No entry fee and several raffles. 304-562-9351.

Kiwanis Breakfast with Santa, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Dec. 1, at the AEP Building, 525 3rd St., Ironton. Breakfast will include a pancake and sausage meal for $5. Children under 2 are free. All children can get their photo taken with Santa.

Holiday Open House, 1-4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2, at the Huntington Museum of Art, 2033 McCoy Road, Huntington. Local groups will be performing, Santa Claus will visit and there will be children's art activities and refreshments. Visitors are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item for the Huntington Area Food Bank and/or warm clothes for the Cridlin Food and Clothing Pantry.

Horse-drawn wagon rides and visits with Santa, 1-3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, at Yuletide in the Park, Putnam County Park, Eleanor, W.Va.

Karaoke and pizza with Santa, Thursday, Dec. 6, at the Ashland Transportation Center, 15th and Front Street, Ashland. There will also be trolley rides around Central Park. Call 606-329-1007.

"Stories with Santa," 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Empire Books and News, 30 Pullman Square, Huntington. Join the Woman's Club of Huntington Junior Department. There will be cookies and hot chocolate. Bring a camera if you wish to be photographed with Santa. $5. Proceeds go to the Tri-State Literacy Council.

Pictures with Santa, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Highlands Museum and Discover Center, 1620 Winchester Ave., Ashland.