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Houston's most whimsical winter wonderland delivers a treat for special-needs kids

Houston's winter wonderland delivers a treat for special-needs kids

HouVille
Visit life-sized Rockets teddy bears. Photo courtesy of Hou-Ville
HouVille
Hou-Ville is a Seussian take on Houston. Photo courtesy of Hou-Ville
HouVille
A winter wonderland. Photo courtesy of Hou-Ville
HouVille
Santa stops by. Photo courtesy of Hou-Ville
HouVille
HouVille
HouVille
HouVille

Since its recent opening, Hou-Ville has cast a spell on Houstonians. The limited-engagement exhibit has morphed Live Nation’s downtown 40 Below venue (520 Texas Ave.) into a whimsical holiday wonderland. 

Now, the popular exhibition is opening its colorful doors to kids who might otherwise be overlooked during the holiday entertainment rush. Hou-Ville is offering a free Sensory Day for children with autism and special needs, organizers announced.

Hou-Ville’s special offering for special needs kids takes place Thursday, December 17, from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. The event is open to 100 autistic and special-needs children (accompanied by a parent) and is sponsored by the exhibit and BioTek reMEDys, according to a press release.

To participate, parents should RSVP via email to HouVilleevents@gmail.com to receive a special promotional code for tickets to the event; the first 100 RSVPs will be accepted.

“Families with special needs children often face a different set of challenges when it comes to  exploring public exhibits and holiday events,” said Sherrie Handrinos, co-owner of Hou-ville, in a statement. “Kids have been having a ball exploring the life-sized sets, taking photos and playing the faux snow at Hou-Ville.”

Guests can expect 12 life-size Hou-Ville City sets; a Hou-Ville Bakery with oversized goodies; an Astro’s-themed  Gingerbread House; a Santa’s Workshop filled with toys and giant stuffed Houston Rockets teddy  bears; a ski-lift; a Santa’s Space Station Sleigh; and a Candy Cane Lane replete with complimentary hot chocolate, coffee, and handmade holiday ice cream treats by Houston food truck, The DoughCone. 

For this special-needs event, The DoughCone will provide dairy-free hot cocoa and Cubby Love Bears give away their Auzy Bear, which is created for non-verbal children. Families will have access to a look book to prepare their children for the experience.

The holiday village also includes a Hou-Ville Gift Shop featuring gifts and stocking stuffers, a cash bar  on the weekends for adults, and appearances by Santa.

For COVID safety, masks are required and will be provided free  of charge if needed. Wellness checks, including temperature checks, will be conducted upon entry for the Free Sensory Day and all other scheduled visits. Hand sanitizing stations and wipes are located throughout the village, the exhibit is sanitized between scheduled time slots, and the entire facility is steamed and sterilized nightly, according to organizers.

Parking is available at the Green Garage located at 511 Rusk in Downtown Houston, with a Level  2 tunnel that leads directly to the venue.