There were smiles in every room and hallway at the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St. John’s Thursday when Santa dropped in for a visit.
This year, he let his reindeers rest at home.
Instead, he hitched a ride on a Cormorant helicopter, provided by the 103 Search and Rescue Squadron in Gander.
“We have a little more horsepower than the reindeer,” said pilot leader Peter Wright.
“I guess we’ll share the load, as they have a big job on Christmas.”
The man in red was greeted by a gaggle of kids waiting at the front door.
There were also a few teary-eyed staff members standing by.
“I don’t think there was a dry eye out there,” said Arlene Scott, regional director with the Janeway’s children’s health program at Eastern Health.
Santa’s helpers from Gander’s 103 squadron followed close behind, carrying a tub of their precious cargo: presents for all of the kids.
Once inside, he visited children in all the different wards and departments, whether they were staying the night or just there for the day, giving them gifts and listening to their Christmas wishes.
“Anywhere there’s a little child, he’ll drop by,” Scott said.
Nine-year-old Anja Ratsimandresy even had something to give back to Santa: his Christmas letter, letting Santa know what he’d like to find on Christmas morning.
“I want a surprise,” he said.
Visits every year
Santa visits the Janeway every year, but his trip on the Cormorant this year was pretty special.
“We’re so pleased to have the Gander Search and Rescue squadron with us, they provide excellent service to us for sick children, transporting them across the province,” said Scott.
“It’s such a special treat to have Santa arriving that way.”
Santa will be back to the Janeway on Christmas Eve when he does his rounds across the province and the world. He said that visit is also a “very, very special visit.”
“[On Christmas Eve] we’re in pediatric intensive care and the neonatal unit. And there’s tiny, tiny, tiny little babies and it is an amazing, amazing experience.”