Officials at Southcentre Mall are overwhelmed by the positive feedback they are receiving after setting up a special Santa Claus sitting for children with autism.    

Krista Moroz, a representative of Southcentre Mall, came up with the idea.  She says there have been dozens of phone calls and e-mails from Calgarians thanking them for making it happen.

The event happened on Sunday morning.  The children were ushered in to see Santa before the mall was opened.

The lights had to be dimmed and the music set on low to make the children comfortable, and Santa arrived to weave his special magic.

For most of the children, it was the first time they’ve had an opportunity to have their picture taken with Santa.

“People have been crying. Families who were here to do the photo with Santa were crying,” says Moroz.  “People who have no connection to autism have been emotionally touched by this.”

Local autism organizations helped with the planning and getting the word out. Kim LaCourse is with Renfrew Educational Services, the school that helped with the planning.

“What a great opportunity for families to be able to experience the joy that any other family would in terms of taking a child to see Santa Claus,” says LaCourse.

Renfrew Educational Services notified families with autistic children of the event and let the mall know what special preparations were required to make it work.

This year’s event was so successful, plans are underway to do it again next year but hold the event over two days.

More than 100 children took part in Sunday's event.