It's a holiday tradition that started with the Quad Cities icon himself. After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream, in conjunction with the Happy Joe’s Kids Foundation, is bringing back its annual holiday parties for special needs children. This annual event was started by founder Happy Joe Whitty and it has made all kids in the Quad Cities feel special during this time of year.

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Brian Barkley - Happy Joes Facebook
Brian Barkley - Happy Joes Facebook

Happy Joe’s CEO and Chief Happiness Officer Tom Sacco announced that Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream and the Happy Joe’s Kids Foundation are bringing back their annual holiday parties for special needs children.

Sacco wants this experience to be available to every child in the company’s home base of the Quad Cities, as well as throughout all Happy Joe’s locations. Many franchisees host their own individual parties for their special-needs communities.

The Happy Joe’s team will feed and entertain these very special guests along with their teachers, parents, and caregivers in the Quad Cities at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 6, and Wednesday, December 7, at Vibrant Arena at The MARK (1201 River Dr., in Moline, Illinois).

Sacco said in the press release,

“The holiday season is the most important time of year to give back, and nobody deserves to have a more festive time than children with special needs. Happy Joe’s strives to be the top choice for great food and a fun time together. These parties have been designed to ensure these wonderful children feel appreciated and included in our community. We’ve been told that for many of these kids this is the highlight of their holidays, and their teachers and parents are thrilled these parties are making a comeback!”

Happy Joe’s holiday parties started back in 1972 when founder Happy Joe Whitty made a commitment to ensure all families with special needs children felt welcomed at Happy Joe’s. Since then, aside from the two-year break due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Happy Joe’s has never missed a year hosting these very special events.


Happy Joe’s will provide free pizza, ice cream, and soft drinks for all party attendees. There will be performances from Happy the Dog, Happy Joe’s hip-hop dance team, and a visit from everyone’s favorite jolly old elf, Santa Claus. Santa will deliver a message and be available for photos with the children, with each of them receiving a special gift upon their departure.

Kate Holsen, a Moline resident with Down Syndrome, will kick off the festivities by singing the national anthem. Holsen, an advocate for people with special needs, is a board member for Gigi’s Playhouse Quad Cities – an organization that supports children with special needs, particularly Down Syndrome – and a longtime supporter of Happy Joe’s holiday parties for special needs children.

Reservations are required to attend and can be made by contacting by November 28. 

All attendees are asked to include the name of the family, school, or organization attending, the number of children attending, and the date and time of the party they wish to attend.

For any additional details about these parties, or to volunteer, contact Kristel Ersan.

To learn more about Happy Joe’s, visit

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