SUMMERSIDE – While the season of Christmas cheer has arrived, Jaclyn Johnston and Strathallen Group are hoping to make a meet and greet with Santa enjoyable for all.
“This year, at the County Fair Mall, we’ve introduced a Silent Santa event for children with autism, who are shy, or often feel overwhelmed by sensory overload,” said Johnston.
Johnston is the marketing director for Strathallen, the group that owns the Summerside mall.
“We’ve introduced the event at our site in Truro, and it’s gone over very well. It consists of quieter hours in the shopping centre. It will be a quieter environment. The lights will be dimmed, Santa won’t be ringing his bell or yelling ‘hohoho’, there won’t be any music and any moving props will be turned off.”
The idea of a silent event originated from a staffer at the Truro mall who is on the autism spectrum. From there, staff members received training for the event.
“It’s a day worth the time and effort. We know there is a need for it everywhere, and the mall is a community centre that should feel comfortable for everyone.”
She added, “It’s an important event. It’s an opportunity for families to ensure their child enjoys interacting with Santa or coming to the mall.”
The next Silent Santa event will run on Sunday, Dec. 3, from 4 to 5 p.m.