Holidays just got a little brighter for deaf and hard of hearing children in the Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- There was quite a bit of fanfare to kick off the 30th annual Silent Sleigh, a holiday event for deaf and hard of hearing children at the Air National Guard Base.

Deaf mother Windy Hamilton came with her son-- four-year-old Zyler-- to see the signing Santa.

"We're really excited today. I don't know necessarily if Zyler is excited because he tends to be shy," said Hamilton.

Hamilton used to come to this event as a kid and now she gets to enjoy Christmas through the eyes of her child.

Silent Sleigh started with a parade and Air National Guard members dressing up to show their holiday spirit. The police department came on horseback. Then the star of the show, Santa Clause, came waving and signing "I love you."

The event started three decades ago when the parents of a deaf boy took their child to meet Santa.

"It was very sad when he was meeting with Santa, he said Santa doesn't understand me," said Michelle Bronson, Deaf & Hard of Hearings Services Exec. Dir.

Now, 30 years later, these kids get a chance to communicate with someone who knows their wish list and their language.

Children also had a chance to play games and even see a live deaf performer.

About 150 kids from schools attended Silent Sleigh. For many, it's a chance to connect with the deaf community across the Valley.

"When kids go back to school in August they're always asking the teaching when Silent Sleigh is and if we're going have it this year and it's great. It's something the kids look forward to every year," said Bronson.

Organizers said they could not put on the Silent Sleigh without Santa of course, and all their partners, who truly show Christmas joy to the deaf and hard of hearing community.
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