Saturday evening, Eagle Mountain City held its annual Silent Santa event.
Each holiday season since 2018, Eagle Mountain City has held the event, which is tailored for families with individuals in their homes who have disabilities or sensory issues.
The Silent Santa event provides residents with one-on-one interactions with Santa – no lines, loud music, or other distractions.
“They meet Santa on their terms,” says Dawn Hancock, Events Manager for the City. “Sometimes, it is from afar just waving and sometimes there are up-close interactions. It is entirely up to the family’s comfort level.”
Individuals who attend the event can also drop off a letter to Santa. Those who provide their name and mailing address will receive a letter from Santa in return.
The event is put on entirely by the City Events staff. According to Hancock, staffing is kept at a minimum to help with overstimulation and prevent the spread of germs to vulnerable individuals.
This year, 35 families totaling 84 children got to meet with Santa, a number that has nearly doubled since last year’s event, according to Hancock.
Like its fall counterpart, the Adaptive Trick-or-Treat, Eagle Mountain’s Silent Santa program is an award-winning program. In 2020, Silent Santa received the Outstanding Adaptive Programming award from the Utah Parks and Recreation Association (URPA) for its efforts toward inclusion.
Hancock says the event would not be what it is today without the event’s volunteer Santa, Cory Maxson.
“We give him all the information for the families before they enter,” says Hancock. “As soon as they walk into the room, he greets them by name and tries to make the families as comfortable as possible. Sometimes he whispers, sits on the floor, dances, or listens. He is excellent at reading the room and allowing the kids to direct the interaction.”
Because they may not have severe disabilities or sensory issues, Hancock says many families may fear that registering for the event would take away an appointment from someone who may need it more. Hancock says that is not the case.
“Please, register for the event,” she says. “We want to see you and your family and help alleviate holiday stress.”
The Events staff will continue to add more Silent Santa appointments each year as the event grows, and residents who think their family may benefit from attending the event are encouraged to register.
“This event is not for the masses but for those who attend, it is everything,” says Hancock.
Silent Santa is held each December following the Christmas Village. Registration opens around mid-November.