BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It's a holiday tradition more than half a century in the making. Biloxi Elks Lodge members say every Christmas for the past 60 years, they have welcomed in special needs children with a big party.
Bailey Edwards and her classmates got the crowd moving with their rendition of "Here Comes Santa Claus" and other Christmas favorites.
Her parents Jason & Rise Edwards were there to cheer her on.
"She gets to be here with all of her friends she loves every day," said Jason Edwards. "Just to get down here and perform for everybody, she had a good time."
Santa Claus stopped by the Biloxi Elks Lodge to visit with students from the Harrison County Child Development Center. The Center serves special needs children from across the county.
"They need community involvement," said Principal Vickie Carter. "The community needs to meet our students that are out there with all of our special needs. We want them to meet their full potential to everything."
Elks Lodge members say it's their privilege to spread a little Christmas joy to these children and their families.
Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler Elks Harry Kostmayer said, "It's our obligation as part of our club to help the less fortunate and it's just a pleasure to be able to help people that need help."
"It's kids that really look forward to coming and seeing Santa Claus up close and personal," said David Poulos, Exceptional Party Chairman. "We give them a present. We feed them hamburgers from McDonald's and it's just something special for these kids and they've been looking forward to it all year long. "
The Elks Lodge members say 40 of the last 60 years, the Christmas parties have been for the Harrison County Child Development Center, which right now serves about 120 children.