By Loreen Berlin
Once again, with the Easter celebration just around the corner, Westminster Mall teamed up with Eventbrite, Cherry Hill and Autism Speaks programs to host the Easter Bunny Cares event over the weekend.
It’s a sensory-friendly and compassionate event for children and their families who have special needs, to make it so the children can enjoy an Easter Bunny photo-experience in a calm and quiet environment prior to the Mall opening to the public.
Upon arrival, one of the bunny’s helpers provides each family with a number, so that the family doesn’t have to stand in a line until the Easter Bunny is ready for them.
While waiting, children may color large pictures of Easter eggs on special tables set up for the activity and they can also help themselves to juice-drinks with straws, bottles of water and muffins.
Visits with the Easter Bunny were free and photo packages capturing the holiday memory were available for purchase.
“This is awesome,” said Tarek and Janina Graves, who attended the Easter Bunny Cares with their two sons Jayden, 8, and Jordan, 6. “Our son has gotten better over time and now it’s easier to take his picture; he’s more receptive in the quieter setting.”
Sensory-triggers such as in-Mall music, bright lights, escalators located near the photo set and mall traffic were muted and/or dimmed during the special visits with the Easter Bunny and special activities geared toward the needs of the guests were planned for those waiting for their turn with the Easter Bunny.
When Nathan Amondson was asked what the Sensitive Bunny time meant to his family, he said, “It’s nice, it keeps the children calm and this event at the Westminster Mall is the very best. We’ve tried several others but keep coming back here every year and have many pictures throughout the years with the Sensitive Bunny and Sensitive Santa. This is the best.”
The Salamone family attended with their two young daughters.
“We come here every year,” said Susan and Oscar Salamone. “When our kids were younger, this bunny would play hide-and-seek with them, which was helpful, and we love the beautiful set-up they have it’s so cute.”
“We hope our furry friend brought smiles and Easter joy for the many families who would not otherwise have the opportunity to visit the Easter Bunny,” said Marketing Director Patrice Conover. “People within every spectrum of special needs and their families were invited to the private photo session to experience the time-honored tradition of a visit with the Easter Bunny.”
Regular Easter Bunny visits are available at the Mall through Saturday, April 20 for all children and their families to pose for photos, during regular retail hours.
“Meeting the Easter Bunny is one of those classic traditions we can all remember participating in during spring,” said Conover. “These unique activities offer guests an enhanced experience to create even more Easter memories with their loved ones.”
Photos by Loreen Berlin
The Graves family enjoys the Easter Bunny Cares event at the Westminster Mall on Sunday. From left, are Tarek Graves, Jayden, Janina and Jordan.
From left, Eva and Maya get high fives from the Sensitive Easter Bunny.
Westminster Mall Assistant Marketing Director Paula Tena is ready to help youngster with an opportunity to color pictures of large Easter eggs at the Easter Bunny Cares event on Sunday.