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Sensitive Santa Debuts 

A new event helps children with special needs enjoy a visit with Legendary Santa.

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Scott Elmquist

Legendary Santa has been entertaining local children for 78 years.

Never one to leave children out, he now plans to make sure he provides the best environment possible for all the little boys and girls with special needs.

Easter Seals-United Cerebral Palsy with the Children's Museum of Richmond will serve as host of Richmond's inaugural Sensitive Legendary Santa event for children with disabilities on Tuesday, Dec. 10, from 5-8 p.m., at the museum.

The lights and music will be softer and more calming — more appropriate for children with autism and attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder. And while most kids typically get 30 seconds, Sensitive Legendary Santa will spend three minutes with each child, allowing for more of a warm-up and personal introduction from the Snow Queen.

Special events director Christine Coffey says she heard about a similar program from a friend in Northern Virginia. "Our whole goal [at Easter Seals] is recalibrating all our programs and services to make Richmond a more adaptable city that should be open and more comfortable for people with special needs," she says. "We needed to take a step back. Ask what do you take that's currently out there and change it up?"

Without much more than a basic social media push, the event has garnered 200 sign-ups from parents. Virginia Commonwealth University students also have created wheelchair ramps. The trend is growing nationwide, she says, and Richmond is getting on board early.

This free event is Tuesday, Dec. 10, from 5-8 p.m. at the Children's Museum of Richmond at 2626 W. Broad St. Space is limited and registrations must be made at RVASensitiveLegendarySanta.eventbrite.com. For information call 353-2571.

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