NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Students who are deaf or partially deaf from across Hampton Roads got the chance to meet a unique Santa Claus for the holidays.
MacArthur Center hosted its annual “Signing Santa” event Tuesday, during which students can communicate with Santa Claus by sign language.
Ten-year-old Michael Brown Cabrera, who is a student at Nelson Elementary School in Newport News, was one of many children who attended the event.
He told Santa Claus he wanted a Batmobile for Christmas.
“I came because I’d like to see Santa. If I sit down with Santa, who is hearing and speaks, I feel nervous. It’s exciting because Santa can sign,” Brown Cabrera told 10 On Your Side through an American Sign Language translator.
His teacher, Elizabeth Churchill, said her class always looks forward to the event.
“They get excited for it every year, asking in September ‘When are we going to see Santa?'” she said.
Churchill said she also enjoys the event because it gives the deaf and hard of hearing community a chance to come together.
“I love these opportunities we have in our community and we strive for this every year trying to make sure our kids have equal access like they should have,” she said.
Mike Brunner, who was there with his 9-year-old daughter, agreed.
“It’s just nice to see the community they have and the things they do with the deaf and hard of hearing,” he said.
Brunner’s daughter attends Corporate Landing Elementary School in Virginia Beach. He said this is their fourth year seeing signing Santa but they have also visited Santas who can hear.
“We do the same thing but she doesn’t talk so she has to do sign language. We have to stand there with her and tell them what she’s saying,” he said.
The Signing Santa event also included snacks, face painting and crafts, as well as carols performed by “Talking Hands,” a signing student group from Lakeland High School in Suffolk. Richmond Ballet dancer Lauren Archer, who was dressed as the Snow Queen from The Nutcracker, also made an appearance.