By Gabriella Wallace
Glazer Children’s Museum opened the museum early on Sunday, Oct. 28 to throw their first Sensory Friendly Halloween Spree for children with special needs.
The event was an expansion of their bi-monthly program, Sunshine Sunday, where families and children with disabilities and special needs can enjoy the museum.
Kate White, Glazer Children’s Museum’s Director of Marketing and Communications, said that the Sunshine Sunday program never lands in October. However, the museum wanted all children the opportunity to celebrate the holiday, so they decided to expand it for this October.
The night before, Oct. 27, the Glazer Children’s Museum partnered with The Tampa Riverwalk for a Halloween Spree for all children, without sensory-friendly elements.
“Last night’s event had around 900 people with lots of loud sounds and bright lights, which can be fun for some but it can be stressful and trigger kids with special needs,” said White. “We’ve taken those elements out to give them a controlled trick-or-treating environment so they can come here and feel safe.”
The Sensory Friendly Halloween Spree focused on allowing children with special needs and disabilities to comfortably enjoy the Halloween season by lowering the sound and lights in parts of the Glazer Children Museum.
The museum decided to pick only half of the Halloween activities from the original Halloween Spree. The activities were toned down versions to make them enjoyable for everyone.
The event had all the normal museum exhibits operating with 10 signature Halloween stations up for the children. The Glazer Children’s Museum opened up their Mad Scientist Room which is barely used for the Sensory Friendly Halloween Spree.
Some of the stations focused on different sensations, such as, the mystery boxes that focused on touch and smell sensations. The museum’s Glow Room acted as the light and sound sensory room, where the lights were lowered to a docile setting where the lights had a transitional period to change.
“A lot of the already established things at the museum are fantastic, but having these add-on events are really special because it’s what’s going to elevate their experience and make it a memorable day for this Halloween season,” said Caroline Turner, Events and Program Coordinator at Glazer Children’s Museum.
Glazer Children’s Museum chose to have the Halloween Spree in the morning to afternoon for the expectation that not a lot of people would come.
White said the goal was to have a quiet and calming area where everyone can relax, not to have as many people as possible show up for the event like the day before’s. Approximately 100 people attended the Sensory Friendly Halloween Spree.
“I really liked the fact that the museum put it on because it allowed for everyone to have fun,” said Amanda Rapson, a parent to a child with autism.
The museum staff hopes to make Sunshine Sunday a monthly program, instead of bi-monthly. Their next Sunshine Sunday will be on Nov. 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.