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Sensitive Santa offers quiet Christmas experience

Barrie and Orillia have popular service
File photo of Santa

The annual trip to visit with Santa Claus can be memorable, exciting and in some cases, overwhelming.

Georgian Mall in Barrie and the Orillia Public Library host Sensitive Santa for those who need a quiet visit with the jolly old elf. 

It's the third year of Sensitive Santa at the Orillia Public Library.

Children can meet with Santa in an isolated part of the library with a quiet and peaceful atmosphere. It is meant to assist children with social, emotional or behavioural needs. It can also be beneficial for infants.

"We have quite a diverse clientele and we want to make sure everyone has a happy Santa experience," said Team Reading Advisor, Chanel Craigie. 

"At the mall the sounds, decorations, lights and noise can be fun but can also be too much for some kids. It can be sensory overload."

The staff sets Santa up in a quiet room near a fireplace. The visits are pre-booked at fifteen minute intervals.

"If the child is uncomfortable sitting with Santa, Santa will come sit with the child and do some colouring at a table. It is wonderful to see," Craig explained.

Sensitive Santa is a concept that is quite widely seen in the United States but not so much yet in Canada.

The Sensitive Santa program at Barrie's Georgian Mall is so popular, it is sold out according to the mall website.

The mall offers the opportunity for kids with Autism to have some time with Santa before the mall opens.

“Everyone seems happier when they get home and have a nicer family picture. The parents are also less stressed," said Craigie.

There are just a few slots left for this year’s event on Saturday, December 2nd from 12 to 4:30 p.m. You can register at 705-325-2559 (children’s department) or email cys@orilliapubliclibrary.

The event is free but donations are accepted to offset the cost of the photos.