by LCVB staff member

Santa for Pets and Special Needs Children

Pet Night with Santa at the Great Lakes Mall

Great Lakes Mall once again welcomes Santa this year!  Throughout December, you and your children can visit him everyday in mall – and you can even make reservations this year!  Make an appointment by texting RESERVE to 74666 or go to

-OR- you can attend one of these two great events for your pooch or special needs family members!

Great Lakes Mall will hold a Caring Santa™ event this holiday season on Sunday, December 2 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Caring Santa is a special event dedicated to families that have children with special needs, providing a subdued environment to visit The Santa Photo Experience located in the Dillard’s south concourse.

Many steps are taken to reduce sensory triggers, creating a more comforting environment for the children’s magical visit with Santa. This environment includes:

• Turning off in-mall music, stopping escalators located near the Santa set, dimming the lights, and shutting down fountains during the duration of the event.
• Eliminating queue lines through the use of a numbering system whereby guests approach the set when their number is called.
• Special activities and stories geared toward the needs of the child during the ‘wait’ period to help the child understand what activities will occur during the visit.

This will be the second year for the Caring Santa program at many Simon malls. “Last year, we saw families who received a Santa photo with their child for the very first time,” said Sheryl Young, CEO of “We are fortunate to have terrific alliances with Simon and their photo operators who have worked with us to lessen potential triggers, like having the event occur during private mall hours and other slight adjustments that help provide a calmer sensory-friendly environment for all children to enjoy.”

“We are thrilled to be the venue for this incredible event,” said Renee Lanzara, director of marketing and business development, Great Lakes Mall. “The Caring Santa program brings a lot of joy to children with special needs and to see that happen at our mall is truly an honor.”

Participants are encouraged to RSVP for the Caring Santa event at Great Lakes Mall by going to Attendees should enter the mall through the food court doors the morning of the event.

If you are looking for your pet to visit Santa, Great Lakes Mall will host Pet Photo Night where families and individuals can bring in dogs and cats for photos with Santa on Sunday, December 2 and Sunday, December 9 from 6:30-8 p.m.  Dogs, cats and their owners are invited to join Santa in his sleigh at Great Lakes Mall located in the Dillard’s South concourse. Each pet will receive a treat bag, if they’re on the “nice list,” of course.

“Many pet owners consider their pets part of the family,” said Renee Lanzara, director of marketing and business development. “Pet Photo Night with Santa is a great opportunity for holiday shoppers to include their pet in their family’s holiday photo and create a cherished holiday memory.”

“Bark” your calendars and bring your pets for a commemorative holiday photo!

However you come to visit Santa – by RSVP, with your pet, or with your family – we say Ho!Ho!Ho! and a jolly Christmas season to you!


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