Promenade mall to host Sensitive Santa on Sunday
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Thursday, November 29, 2012
11/29/12 at 3:39 AM
Jennifer Roudabush doesn't go to malls much.
Her 7-year-old son, Luke, loves shopping at Target, but malls - particularly this busy time of year - are "sensory overload," Roudabush said.
Luke is autistic and nonverbal, and the bright lights and noise of holiday shopping would overwhelm him.
But she's planning to take Luke to Tulsa Promenade on Sunday morning to meet Santa.
"I think he's going to absolutely love it," said Roudabush, who will be among local parents taking their children with autism to Promenade's third annual Sensitive Santa from 8 to 11 a.m. Sunday.
The event is geared toward children with autism, allowing them an opportunity to do what millions of other kids do this time of year: sit on Santa's lap.
Approximately three to six children out of every 1,000 have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and it can be difficult for families of children with autism to enjoy some of the holiday celebrations and traditions most people take for granted, said Eileen Neighbors, spokeswoman for Promenade, a Glimcher property.
The idea for Sensitive Santa started with a Glimcher-owned mall in Ohio several years ago. Offered to families with autistic children before regular mall hours, the event was a hit and grew to other properties, including Promenade, which had more than 70 children last year.
For Sunday's event, the mall's lights will be dimmed and the holiday music will be low. Plus, those working in the Santa area have been instructed to avoid loud, distracting movements.
Making it more special is that no other shoppers will be in the mall - strictly families with autistic children.
To commemorate their kids' experience with Kris Kringle, the mall has partnered with Worldwide Photography to give each family attending a free 4-by-6 photo keepsake, Neighbors said.
Brain Balance of Tulsa and the Autism Center of Tulsa are event co-sponsors and will be providing information to parents and caregivers of autistic children. Also, an arts-and-crafts area will be available for children while they wait for their turn with Santa.
That's another perk for Roudabush, she said: no lines, as autistic kids usually don't handle them well.
Luke is already planning for his visit, his mom said.
"I think he's going to absolutely love it," she said.
For more about Sensitive Santa, call Promenade, 918-627-9282.
Sensitive Santa is part of Tulsa Promenade's "Magical Season of Giving." Here is a list of other events coming up at the mall:
Salvation Army Angel Tree: Now through Dec. 12. Visit the tree to "adopt" less fortunate children and senior citizens, and provide personalized gifts and necessities. The tree is located at the main entrance by Hollywood Theatre.
Sounds of the Season: Dec. 1-24. Enjoy the talent of local community groups, schools, colleges, churches, orchestras and choirs in the upper-level food court.
Pet Photos with Santa: 6-8 p.m. Dec. 4. Bring your pets - on leashes or in a carrier, please - for a picture with Santa.
Momtopia Kids Club: 1-2:30 p.m. Dec. 8. Oklahoma Kids Inc. will entertain children with holiday songs, interactive games and door prizes in the food court.
Breakfast With Santa: 9-10 a.m. Dec. 15. Children younger than 10 are invited to have breakfast with Santa in the food court. Families are asked to bring a gently used or new coat to donate to the Coats for Kids project.
For more, 918-627-9282.
Original Print Headline: Promenade hosts Sensitive Santa on Sunday
Jason Ashley Wright 918-581-8483
The Promenade's third annual Sensitive Santa is from 8-11 a.m. Sunday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World file