Happy Joe’s Pizza hosts holiday party for kids with special needs

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MOLINE, Illinois - More than 1,500 kids with special needs and their aids will attend a Happy Joe's Holiday Party on December 4 and December 5.

The annual event will be held at the Taxslayer Center in Downtown Moline.

The parties will be held at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on both days and will include ice cream, dancing, and of course Happy Joe's Pizza!

There will also be visits from Happy the Dog, Miss Iowa, Happy Joe and Santa Claus!

“These are our favorite days of the year," Whitty said. "Many of these kids have grown up coming to our parties, and for some, it will be a brand new experience. We love seeing their smiling faces."

The event started back in the 1970's when a mother entered a Happy Joe's location and asked if her son would be welcomed to eat there, according to Marketing Director Kristel Whitty-Ersan.

She was concerned they would be turned away because her son had special needs.

Whitty realized there was a need for inclusion in the community and started hosting these holiday parties. The parties have grown so large that they are now spread out over multiple days at the Taxslayer Center.

The parties are at no cost to the kids, though. They are sponsored by the Happy Joe's Kids Foundation.

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