LIVINGSTON, NJ – With the arrival of the holiday season, the Livingston Advisory Committee for Disabilities (LACD), held its 18th party for people with special needs, on Sat. Dec, 14, at the Livingston Community and Senior Center. Despite snow blanketing the ground outside, Essex County individuals with special needs and their families still gathered together in the warmth of the party hall to partake in the event.
Alan Karpas, President of the Healthy Community Healthy Youth Initiative (HCHY), said he was surprised but pleased by the large turnout of guests. “With the snow, I didn’t expect that many people to show up. We had about 200 RSVP’s and I’d say about half that many people showed up. It was nice to see.”
The LACD Holiday Party for people with special needs is part of a series of seasonal events that take place throughout the year to give back to individuals with special needs. Other LACD parties include one for Halloween and a springtime party.
“These events mean the world to [the guests with special needs],” said Bob Gebroe, LACD Chairman.
“I had one woman come up to me and say that she was coming out to the event today--even if it was canceled,” said Karpas, as an example of one guest’s excitement for the event.
When the party commenced, the dance floor quickly filled with individuals moving to the beats of holiday tunes. At the dining tables, guests engaged in conversations, while eating pizza and an assortment of desserts including a holiday-inspired sheet cake, provided by the LACD.
In addition, Santa Claus came to the special event and took pictures and mingled with the guests. As he does every year, Gebroe was the man dressed up behind the red suit and black boots.
Several local clubs volunteered their time to help bring the party to life including the Livingston High School (LHS) Key Club and the LHS Action Club. A local knitting club also donated hand-knitted winter hats to guests in attendance.
Karpas said that he felt all the effort from the LACD and the volunteer clubs, as well as the simple reason for the event itself—giving back—represented the true holiday spirit. “It was beautiful to see everyone come out and come together,” said Karpas following the afternoon’s festivities. “Everyone went home happy,”
For more information about similar events or the LACD, visit the LACD Facebook page.