A familiar holiday scene is playing out inside Santa’s workshop at the Gaylord Hotel. Four-year-old Cleo Boudreault nervously approaches Santa Claus. As her parents encourage her, the man in red smiles gently at the little girl.
Then, with a twinkle in his eye, Santa greets Cleo in American Sign Language. For a brief moment, she pauses and is unsure what to do.
But then Cleo signs back.
They share a conversation, completely in ASL, for a few more minutes. While mostly silent, Cleo and Santa have made a clear connection— she even smiles for her photo.
On Monday evening, the Gaylord Hotel at National Harbor welcomed Santa Charles, one of the country’s few deaf Santa Clauses. Throughout the night, local kids line up to tell the man in red what they want for Christmas.
DAD Note: National Harbor is just outside the Washington D.C. by the Beltway.