Santa flew into Central Jersey Regional Airport and landed his Cessna 172, co-piloted by his special pilot elf, Mike Guilbert, on Dec. 11 in the TriState Aviation third annual Fly-In, which has tripled in size since its first event.
Santa first did a low pass across the runway to let the kids know he was in the area and “might” land at the airport if they really wanted him to make a stop. The boys and girls, along with the help of their parents, began to shout, “We want Santa! We want Santa!” over and over again in the hopes that he’d turn his plane around and come back to visit them.
After a round of singing "Jingle Bells" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" as loud as possible so that Santa might hear them as he flew over the airport, co-pilot Elf Mike was told by Santa to turn around and head for the airport to see the little ones. Almost 100 kids began jumping up and down as they watched “Santa’s Express” plane come in for a smooth landing and taxi its way to the Winter Wonderland Hangar.
When Santa finally stopped, everyone chimed in to sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" as he began to climb out of the plane. It was only a matter of a few lines before the song broke up and Santa was surrounded by many of the children who couldn’t get close enough or hug him tight enough to show their love for the big guy in the red suit.
Santa returned as many hugs as possible before the crowd went back into the hangar and the children waited anxiously for their names to be called so they could receive their present from Santa.
While the kids waited to receive their present from Santa, Christmas carols played as everyone helped themselves to hot dogs, hot chocolate, brownies, cookies and pretzels, compliments of Joe and Terri Horner, owners of the airport. This year, Santa delivered personal messages to all the kids. In some cases, Santa knew the name of their elf and would tell them that their elf reports to Santa and said they’re being good.
Santa also delivered some really important messages to some of the kids. One little girl, Vickie Wolf, has been struggling with wearing glasses for the first time. Santa told her that she looked beautiful in her new glasses and knows she’s having a hard time adjusting to them, but he wanted her to know she should wear them all the time because it makes him happy.
The funds we collected through the event are being donated to Welcome Home Vets of New Jersey.