The holidays in New Orleans are a special time of year for children. For many local families, a top priority for the kids is that customary visit with Santa Claus often followed up with a celebration at one of the area’s many festive tea parties. But for the patients at Children’s Hospital, these activities may simply not be possible.

One local hotel has stepped up to help ensure that kids hospitalized over Christmas can enjoy many of the same experiences as the rest of the children. For the seventh consecutive year, the Royal Sonesta, in partnership with Tammy Kern of Paper Doll Promotions, recently took their Teddy Bear Tea show on the road for a very special visit to Children’s Hospital.

Planning for the journey begins weeks ahead of time with hotel staffers stuffing gift bags for each child while food and beverage plans refreshments for the party. Then, Santa loads up his sleigh with his team of holiday characters in tow for the magical journey uptown to transport a Royal Teddy Bear Tea experience to the hospital.

The party started off with Santa’s version of a second-line parade that winded its merry way through the hospital’s corridors. Kids joined in the fun with some help from a dancing Teddy Bear, the lovable Frosty the Snowman and a beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy while family members and hospital staffers fell in line.

When the entourage arrived in the auditorium all decked out for the occasion, Mrs. Claus was there to greet each child before all settled down for the telling the famed “The Night Before Christmas.” There were sing-alongs and face-paintings for the kids but most important of all, there were special moments spent visiting with jolly old St. Nick.

“This is my favorite time of year,” said 8-year old Jadyn Robicheau, who is undergoing treatment for leukemia at Children’s.

Brittan Dardar, whose little girl Peyton, 3, is also a patient at the hospital, shared, “this is just wonderful for the kids, it helps us all get into the holiday spirit.”

“Look around at all the smiles on the children’s faces — that’s why we do this,” said Al Groos of the Royal Sonesta. “Our staff looks forward to this event every year.”

The Teddy Bear Tea ‘Road Trip’ is but one layer of the Royal Sonesta’s community outreach to Children’s Hospital. The hotel commissions an artist to create an ornament with proceeds benefiting the hospital. They host ambulatory patients and their families at the hotel for a Royal Teddy Bear Tea in the French Quarter, and they conduct a toy drive to ensure that every hospitalized child experiences the joy of a brand new toy on Christmas morning.

To learn more about the hotel’s program with the hospital, visit www.sonesta/royalneworleans. To learn more about Children’s Hospital, log on to chnola.org.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all, but especially to all of the kids that I met during my visit to Children’s Hospital.

La Vie de Ville captures city life New Orleans style every Thursday in The New Orleans Advocate’s Crescent City news section. For coverage of your community event in Vie, please submit request with details in advance to robertagrove@hotmail.com.