Maria’s Mom’s Italian Cookie Cupboard is holding its 8th annual “Cookies with Sensitive Santa” event during the month of December, which provides an opportunity for kids to meet with Santa for free.
On Thursday Dec. 17 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. and Saturday Dec. 19 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., families are invited to visit with Santa for free at the Cookie Cupboard, located at 13 North Locust Street.
Each family sees Santa privately in a quaint atmosphere, and all children receive a complimentary homemade cookie.
Families are encouraged to bring their cameras.
This year’s theme is a “Minion Christmas.”
Attendees can also get pictures with Minions while visiting Santa.
Due to the high volume of customers, families are encouraged to call and make an appointment for their visit.
“Last Christmas, Santa visited hundreds of families,” said Maria Ritter, owner of Maria’s Mom’s Italian Cookie Cupboard. “We’ve had many visitors return since we opened the bakery and we gain new ones each year by word of mouth. Families are opting for our event instead of enduring the long lines, crowds, and pricey pictures at the malls.”
The tradition of visiting with Santa is a happy event, but is not always the case for children with special needs, including those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The event is sensitive to children with special needs. The smaller room and quiet atmosphere make families feel like they’re visiting Santa right at home.
Ritter’s daughter, who is a special education teacher, helps her family make the event “sensory friendly”, and ensure that each child has both a positive and memorable experience.
“Christmas is the reason we’re here, so this time of year is especially important to us,” Ritter said. ”Our goal is to continue to give back to the community year after year.”