A 22-year-old autistic man was shown the true spirit of Christmas when the Santa Claus at a New Jersey Garden Center spent several minutes chatting with the enthusiastic young man, even allowing him to sit on his lap and discuss his wish list.

(Zoonar RF, ThinkStock)

The visit took place at Dambley's Garden Center in Berlin last Friday. Casey Hackett, 22, went with his parents to visit Santa. Rather than a quick photo and a brief chat, St. Nick invited Casey to sit with him for several minutes. As he went down his Christmas list, Santa joked with the young man about reindeer, dinosaurs and Xbox game systems. He patiently listened, interacted with Casey's family and answered questions.

The entire visit was captured on video by Casey's mother, Meria Hackett, who posted the video to Facebook. It quickly went viral and now has more than 230,000 views. In his Facebook post, Hackett said she "did not tell the staff nor Santa about Casey's autism. We just watched in awe the reaction between Casey and him. Thank you for allowing us to witness the true Christmas spirit."

Hackett described Dambley's Santa as "truly an amazing man."

Her full Facebook post was as follows:

We could not thank you enough to Santa & the staff here for yesterday. My son Casey is 22, Autistic & a simply Big Fellow lol. Casey was #3 in line to see him. We did not tell the staff nor Santa about Caseys Autism. We just watched in awe the reaction between Casey and him. Thank you for allowing us to witness the true Christmas spirit still. If anyone has any doubts about the $10.00 they are charging. Trust me I would have paid more for this. He is truly an amazing man.. this was priceless. Merry Christmas

Earlier this week, NJ 101.5 hosts Deminski and Doyle asked callers which location in New Jersey had "the best Santa Claus." A few callers specifically mentioned Dambley's Santa.

Message from Casey to all the viewers

Posted by Meria Hackett on Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor at NJ 101.5. Reach her at toniann.antonelli@townsquaremedia.com, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.

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