Will, who was actually pretty well-mannered, given the three-hour wait for this extremely popular appointment with Santa, made Santa's eyes twinkle.
"Will, I love first-graders. All first-graders have to sing me their ABCs," Santa said.
And he jingled the bell on his hat along with the song, then promised Will a special gift under the tree, wrapped all in white paper, with no name
but with "ABC" written across it.
For nearly five hours - two hours past closing time - Santa listened to requests for goldfish, zombie guys, Legos and a Ford F-150 truck (from a 20-year-old who has visited Santa each Christmas for the past 18 years.)
A determined little 3-year-old in a red velvet dress with furry white cuffs plopped onto his lap.
He embraced her, told her that he'll bring a dolly and a soft stuffed animal to cuddle with.
"I want an iPad and a laptop," she interrupted him.
"Oh, my, the world has changed," Santa said. "Three-year-olds asking for iPads and laptops."
But he has very little coal in his heart.
Over the years, he has listened to children ask for deployed family members to come home safely, for parents to get back together, for siblings to stop fighting, for Grandpa to return from heaven and for people to smile and be friends with one lonely little 9-year-old.
This year is harder than others, though. The little ones, who put every ounce of their faith into his words, get him.
"Those first-graders," Santa tells me as he stretches his legs after all the children have gone home to bed, "you just look at them, and you think: 'How? How could anybody, how could anybody shoot them?'"
Dvorak is a columnist for The Washington Post. You can follow her on Twitter at @petulad.