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SSCVA rolls out red carpet for first responders, the military and special needs kids

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For most of its run through Dec. 31, “A Christmas Story” Comes Home offers a nostalgic holiday experience for all patrons. But on two December days, special constituencies are especially welcome.

Holiday for Heroes, scheduled for Dec. 6, keeps the doors open from 5 to 8 p.m. for first responders, members of the military, retired military, EMS and Hoosier Helpers and their families. Sponsored by the Shore Shore Convention & Visitors Authority, the event offers an evening of free entertainment, in honor of their service, to those who can show valid identification (one ID card per family).

Erika Dahl, communications director for the SSCVA, said the event draws several hundred attendees who can view the “Christmas Story” windows and  holiday tree displays, take free photos with Santa, sample cookies and hot chocolate, tackle crafts and more, all in a less congested atmosphere than a typical weekend.

Then, on Dec. 7, Special Kids Day will calm the noise and lights and bring Santa down from his mountain perch to a more accessible level, making the Indiana Welcome Center displays less overwhelming for children with sensory and motor issues.

Once again, photos with Santa and other activities are at no cost to participants, thanks to the sponsorship of Hobart Soccer Club’s Top Soccer program.

Alison Martin, coordinator of the program, explained why the club backs the special day: “Hobart Soccer Club believes in the spirit of inclusiveness and accepting the differences that make our world special and caring. In addition to soccer skills, this is what we aim to teach every child that participates in our soccer club. ... This is why our club and program chose to sponsor ‘A Christmas Story’ Comes Home Special Needs Day. The holidays are a magical time of year and being able to provide youth with motor and sensory sensitivities a chance to enjoy the exhibit and have their picture taken with Santa, at no cost to the family, is the spirit of our soccer program.”

Dahl explained that the event started with one daytime shift last year but  because of positive feedback has expanded to two this year: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-7 p.m. Dec. 7.

For more information, visit the SSCVA’s website, www.southshorecva.com/ achristmasstory, or call 800-255-5253.

The Indiana Welcome Center is at 7770 Corinne Drive, Hammond.

This article originally ran on nwitimes.com.

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