How the Midland Santa Parade is becoming sensory-friendly

Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 2:08 PM EST
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MIDLAND, Mich. (WNEM) - The annual Santa Parade returned to downtown Midland on Saturday, Nov. 18, with one block looking a little different.

Ashman Street, bordering Grove Park, hosted the parade’s sensory-friendly zone. It’s a new addition to the parade route, introduced by Midland Santa Parade Grand Marshal Marcie Post, that many are happy to see.

“I mean, everybody has specific needs when it comes to events like this,” said Kevin LaDuke with the Midland Area Community Foundation. “So, we just want to make sure that we have a community that is supportive of everyone here, because we truly can’t thrive until all have the ability to take part in everything we have going on within the community.”

Some first time parade-goers told TV5 why they made their way over this morning.

“This is my daughter’s first time at the Santa Parade,” said Ryan McPhillips. “They’ve really been looking forward to it, they’re excited to see all the familiar faces that surround Christmas and maybe some reindeer.”

Families and children on the block were greeted by characters like Olaf, Rudolph, the Grinch, and Cindy Lou Who.

“I wanted to come out today because I love celebrating Christmas and I’ve never been to the Santa Parade in Midland and everyone talks about how great it is,” said Noroko Demski of Bay City.

Little did they know, they were in the newly added sensory-friendly block.

“I noticed the signs when we got here and I didn’t know that was like a new addition or anything that they’ve done before, so, I thought that was a really cool idea for people that have sensory issues—I do and I didn’t even notice that we were sitting here, so that’s pretty cool,” said Demski.

McPhillips echoed that, saying his little ones enjoy the close proximity to Grove Park.

“I think it’s a great addition, it will be nice to be able to hear all the needs of the kids and make sure that they’re not plugging their ears and really able to sit there and enjoy the parade,” said McPhillips.

If you missed the parade on Saturday, don’t worry—you can still visit Santa Claus in the Midland Area Santa House, when it opens Nov. 28.

“The three days following that are actually going to have sensory-friendly visits. So [Nov.] 29, 30, and [Dec.] 1 are going to be sensory-friendly visits and folks can get ahold of the Midland Area Community Foundation to go ahead and schedule those visits,” said LaDuke. “The reason we do a scheduling process on that, is so folks can say what their specific needs are and then we can help facilitate those visits to the best of our ability.”

To schedule a sensory-friendly visit with Santa, visit here.

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