BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A holiday tradition in Biloxi brought smiles to the faces of children with special needs on Wednesday.
The students were treated to a Christmas parade and party, touching the hearts of those who put the celebration together.
About 100 students from the Harrison County Training Center for Exceptional Children took turns on stage, entertaining the audience.
"I love coming out and I think I'll be coming out the rest of my life," said Greg Roberson of D'Iberville.
Roberson's 13-year-old son Aaron joined other children with special needs and their families at the Christmas Party hosted by the Biloxi Elks Lodge.
"I think it's great for the kids. I think it's great for me, too, as well. It gets me to mingle out with the rest of the kids and see the challenges that they go through and also the teachers as well," Roberson said.
"It's a wonderful event. I don't think the children get enough recognition, and doing something special like this is just awesome," Eric Willoughby added.
The festivities started with a parade from the Biloxi Town Green to the Elks Lodge on Highway 90. Ole St. Nick and Mrs. Claus rode in on a fire truck to enjoy the performances, lunch, and give each child an early Christmas present.
"They seem to appreciate it so much more than our normal, average children. It comes from the heart and I think they give us more than we actually give them," said Eva Stockstill, Christmas party chairwoman for the Biloxi Elks Lodge.
Spreading joy to children has become a heartwarming tradition for the Biloxi Elks for 65 years. All of the food and gifts for the party were donated by the community. Biloxi police, firefighters and the Mississippi State Highway Patrol also pitched in to make the celebration a success.