Southcentre Mall hosted a touching moment on Sunday morning. Before the busy shopping centre opened its doors to holiday shoppers, Santa Claus shared a quiet moment with autistic children and listened to their Christmas wishes.

Nearly 30 families signed up for the special sitting.  On Sunday morning, the number ballooned to more than 100 children.  The kids were finally able to visit Santa, many of them for the first time.

Mall authorities worked together with the local autism society to get the word out and Santa heard the special wishes from the children before the mall opened for business.

Sunday’s turnout was bigger and better than anyone thought.

“These children are so beautiful, just great,” says Santa. “It definitely touches the heart.”

Subtle changes were made to Santa’s village to ensure the children were comfortable.

“We needed to turn off the lights in Santa Land and to turn down the music,” explained Krista Moroz, a representative of Southcentre Mall.  “The changes were made to make sure we’re not over stimulating the children.”

Plans are already underway to hold the special Santa sitting for the 2013 Christmas season.