2002 was a busy and productive year for the Friends of Flying Santa with four fundraising excursions and a successful Lighthouse Adventure raffle as well as our participation in the International Lighthouse Conference in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Thanks to the efforts of all our dedicated volunteers, sponsors and individual contributors, we were once again able to make the traditional Santa flights to New England's lighthouses and Coast Guard stations. The following is a report on the highlights of the three days of flights. Thanks to all of you who made this possible.
Flight 1 - 12/7/02 - Newburyport to Cape Cod & the Islands
It was a very frigid 5 degrees when the day's Flying Santa crew showed up at Hanscom Airfield for our first flight of the season. Santa Dave Waldrip, elf Sally Snowman and photographer Brian Tague met up with Evan Wile, the pilot and sponsor of the day's flight. Evan had generously offered his services for the run to all our Massachusetts stops. You may recall that Evan had donated his helicopter services for Friends of Flying Santa's participation in the International Lighthouse Conference last September. At the time, he also donned the Santa suit, making him our first Santa to pilot the aircraft since the days of Capt. William Wincapaw and his son.
As we headed north to our first stop at Newburyport Harbor Light we were treated to a wonderful view of the vista below us, blanketed by snow. In order to clear a safe landing area upon our arrival at Newburyport, Evan used his patented snow-blowing technique to clear out a spot next to the tower. The rotor wash of the Jet Ranger made quick work of the accumulated snow. After visiting with all the children and the parents in attendance, we were soon on our way south to Annisquam Harbor Light.
Arriving at Annisquam, we made our customary landing on Mrs. Smith's lawn adjacent to the lighthouse property. She has been quite kind in allowing us this privilege over the years. Santa and his elf were warmly greeted by Chief Rob Craighead and his family for the third year in a row and we were invited into the cozy keeper's house for the anticipated distribution of toys. In attendance, were families of the CG crews at Stations Merrimack and Gloucester.
We were soon on our way down the coast to our next stop at lonely Boston Light at the entrance to Boston Harbor. As we approached the island we were delighted to see in the center of the island, a message of holiday greetings carved out of the snow. Keepers Carlos Colon and Ben O'Brien and had prepared the message "MERRY X-MAS SANTA" earlier that morning in preparation of our visit.
Our next stop across the water in Hull was a visit to USCG Station Point Allerton. The spouses of the crew had done an exceptional job of turning the training room into a cheery holiday setting. CWO Patrick Higgins and his crew have been of great assistance to the Flying Santa program over the years. We wish him well in his retirement later this year.
Scituate Light was next on our schedule. A short flight down the South Shore coast where Dave and Sally were kept busy distributing candy canes to the excited children of Cedar Point. We were a bit behind schedule by this time in the flight so we made haste to get back aboard and off to Plymouth Light. One again Inga Hanks and her family were graciously hosting our Santa visit in their small cottage on the Gurnet. With an all too quick visit completed, we made a quick stop for fuel at the Plymouth Airport before heading on to stops at Nobska Point Light and West Chop Light. The day did not seem to be getting any warmer but the hearty souls at each of these locations were in great spirits.
Leaving West Chop and the Vineyard, we were off to Nantucket and our landing at the CG Loran Station on the southeast side of the island. By this point in the flight, Evan was now well-established as a natural part of the team. He had skillfully handled the landings and takeoffs at some of our most confined spots. To top it all off, the red and white colors of his Jet Ranger perfectly befitted the task of transporting Santa. In keeping with our mission of spreading holiday cheer, Evan made a low pass by the control tower at the Nantucket Airport as Santa Dave waved to the smiling controllers. Arriving at the Loran facility, we were greeted by the crew and families as well as those from the boat station at Brant Point. We had finally left behind the snow cover and the sun actually seemed to be providing at least the illusion of warmth. We enjoyed our short visit at the station and were soon back in the air and on our way north to the mainland and our stop at Chatham light.
We left Nantucket behind as we jumped across from Great Point and made the seven mile crossing to the southern tip of the Monomoy Islands. Flying past these barrier islands, we soon spotted the Chatham Break and the always photogenic Chatham Light and CG Station which guards its entrance. Hovering in over a few surprised tourists at the famed overlook, we settled on the front lawn of the station. Santa Dave and Elf Sally made their way to the beaming children hailing them from the front steps. It had been a long day and there was a little less pep in their stride, but they more than compensated with their unbridled enthusiasm. Escorted into the mess deck, Santa and his Elf began distributing the eagerly anticipated gifts. On hand, as always, were young Jeffrey and Tyler Wolcott. In years past they had always impressed Santa with their record-setting abilities in constructing their gifts of Lego toys.
Conceding our race with the setting sun, we were off to our final visit of the day at Cape Cod (Highland) Light in Truro. Upon our landing, we were warmly greeted by Fran Webster and Gordon Russell of the Truro Historical Society. We made our way into the old keeper's house where a room had been set up for Santa to visit with the local children and their families. It was a great way to finish up the day - out of the elements and no longer in any rush to get back on schedule. After an enjoyable visit with all the children, we bundled up and headed out for the long flight back to Hanscom. Dave, Sally and Evan were the main part of the outstanding success of the day's flight. Their sincere efforts are part of the reason that so many Coast Guard families continue to look forward to the annual visits of New England's Flying Santa.
There was little rest for Santa Dave that December weekend. On Sunday morning, less than 12 hours after returning home from the Massachusetts flight, he and Brian were off on a two hour drive to Ellington, Connecticut to meet up with our newest pair of Flying Santa pilots. Pulling up to the hangar at the small central Connecticut airstrip, we were greeted by pilot Glenn Hanson of GlennAir. Thanks to an appeal on our behalf by our long-time NH-Maine pilot Art Godjikian, Glen had generously come forward to offer the services of his Jet Ranger for our Rhode Island and Connecticut stops. We were soon introduced to Glenn's veteran copilot, Lou Belloisy, who would be joining us for the flight. Lou has been flying all types of aircraft for over thirty years and is currently flying for the ABC-TV affiliate in Hartford. Lou is also quite the amateur photographer and we invite you to check out his wonderful photography at www.lousviews.com. We loaded up the helo, making efficient use of all available space - a skill we have learned quite well over the years. Glenn and Lou's easy-going but professional attitude soon let us know that they would fit right in with the long line of good natured pilots that have become part of the Flying Santa tradition.
Lifting off, we headed east over the snow-covered hills towards our first stop at Warwick Light in Rhode Island. Glenn and Lou were about to experience their first Flying Santa visit and this was a great light to start with. Commander Tom Jones and his family were hosting our Santa visit for the third time at their lighthouse residence. Santa made his way to the small area set up beside the tower and began his duties. A steady stream of youngsters, many of them familiar faces from our past visits, took their turn visiting with their special aerial Santa. Meanwhile, our pilots were being introduced to one of the perks of their participation as they made their way into to the keeper's house and the assortment of holiday snacks and beverages.
Energized by a great batch of cookies and hot chocolate, we said our good-byes and headed south down Narragansett Bay to Prudence Island Light. After a quick circle around the snow covered Sandy Point, Glenn and Lou found a secure spot and set us down. Grabbing a sack of candy canes and toy planes, Santa Dave was out the door and off to greet the friendly folks of Prudence Island. In appreciation of Santa's visit, the children presented him with a large wooden tuna fish signed by all in attendance. (Those who know of Santa Dave's summer pastime will appreciate the significance.)
Back in the air, we headed further down the bay, passing over Newport Harbor on our way to the well-kept CG station at Castle Hill. On hand was a small but enthusiastic crowd of crewmembers and their families. It did not take long to conduct our visit with these cheerful souls and we were soon headed back out to the helicopter. But just before climbing aboard, we were informed that, due to a miscommunication, a crewman and his daughter had been waiting for us at the light tower down the road. Not wanting to disappoint, we retrieved the toy that we had left behind and headed off for the light. Circling the tower, we soon spotted Mark Taylor and his daughter Tina waving outside the lens room atop the tiny beacon. Santa Dave waved back, holding aloft the toy he had for the 7-year-old and motioning for the two to descend the tower. With no place to land, Glenn and Lou agreed to an aerial drop (the first for Flying Santa in over 20 years). With an accuracy that would have made the Wincapaws and Snows proud, Santa Dave tossed the gift from the side window just as Tina exited the tower. With her father in tow, she recovered the gift - a plush chenille Santa doll - and waved her thanks as we headed off to Point Judith. All aboard were quite happy to have made this visit special for young Tina. We heard later from her father that she still talks about this unique experience.
Circling the lighthouse and station at Point Judith, we discovered there were people equally adventurous as those of us that fly by helicopter with Santa Claus. For in the frigid surf below us, were a number of surfers waiting to catch some of the area's well-known waves. I am confident both parties looked upon each other with equal levels of incredulity. We made our landing and Santa began his greetings as the crowd made its way into the station's mess deck. Everyone gathered themselves in around the station's Christmas tree and Santa commenced with his anticipated agenda. After all the gifts had been united with the intended recipients, the not uncommon requests were made for pictures with Santa in front of the helicopter. Enduring a cold wind, the shots were completed along with a quick fly-by of the helicopter by Lou. Loading up, we waved goodbye and headed west towards the Connecticut coast.
Lynde Point Light in Saybrook, Connecticut offers one of the most confined of all our landing areas. If a pilot is comfortable with this landing, he will have little difficulty with all the rest. Throughout the flight, Glenn and Lou had been taking turns at the controls. As it turned out, Lou had the stick for this particular landing and he did an outstanding job at his first Lynde Point touch down. Waiting for us was a large turnout from USCG Group Long Island Sound. Almost 30 children were on hand in anxious anticipation of their special Santa. Escorted into one of the keeper's houses that are now used for CG housing, Santa Dave began the task of calling up each child. With Santa sitting in front of a large picture window and the Jet Ranger helicopter outside, framed behind him, one can only wonder about the odd tableau this must have presented to the home's residents.
Completing our tasks, we were soon on our way further west towards Stratford Point and the small but picturesque cast-iron light that awaited us. Here, Capt. Joseph Coccia and his family graciously hosted more families of USCG Group Long Island Sound. In the crowd, were the familiar faces of the Milmoe family. The children, Ryan and Megan, have an unbroken streak of attendance at our Flying Santa visits. Ryan's visits with Flying Santa began over 10 years ago when his father was stationed across the sound at Eaton's Neck Light. Five-year-old Megan has proven just as dependable and we look forward to their continued participation. The Coccias put on quite a spread, and as the last of the children had departed, Santa Dave took the opportunity to take in a bit of nourishment. We would be here for a bit of an extended stay, as we waited for Evan Wile and his helicopter to take us to our final stops out on Long Island. After a well-deserved rest, a re-energized Santa and his crew bade their thank yous and goodbyes and made the short flight over to the neighboring Bridgeport Airport and their rendezvous with Evan. Glenn and Lou had done an exceptional job. If not for their generous contribution, we would not have been able to make these visits. Not to mention what their great spirits added to the overall experience at each of our stops. They have our sincerest appreciation and we are delighted to have them as part of the Flying Santa team.
In order for us to complete our schedule of southern New England lighthouse visits, Evan Wile had flown all the way down from Boston to pick us up for the last two lights on our run. This was all the more special considering that earlier in the day he had flown another Santa for an event in Boston's North End. With a quick transfer of packages and toy bags, we offered our profound thanks to Glenn and Lou and headed off across the Sound to Eaton's Neck.
Arriving at Eaton's Neck, we were greeted by a large crowd of Coast Guard families, with children ranging in age from just a few weeks up to ten years. Escorted into the station's large recreation room, Santa Dave, assisted by Evan, began calling up each of the excited tots. It had been a long two days for Santa, but he did not let it show in his jovial interplay with each child. It took some time to complete our visit and we knew we were in for a long flight to Montauk at Long Island's easternmost point. Wrapping things up and making sure no one was forgotten, we climbed back aboard the Jet Ranger and headed east. We all knew that the sun setting behind us would be long gone by the time we reached the Montauk Point Light. But with the latitude and longitude programmed into Evan's GPS and the fact that we were headed for one of the tallest and brightest lights on Long Island, we were quite confident in our ability to locate our final lighthouse of the day.
Well over ten miles out we spotted the beacon at Montauk. This was the last point of illumination before the darkness that stretched on towards the eastern horizon. We were much later than we had expected, but held out hope that our friends at Montauk would still be waiting for us. Drawing closer to the light, we could now make out the white Christmas lights in each of the keeper's house windows. As Evan turned on his landing lights, we were greeted to the sight of over 40 hardy souls waving to their guest of honor. Marge Winski and the rest of the folks from the Montauk Historical Society are nothing if not patient and their beaming faces let us know that there would be no scolding for our tardiness. Evan set us down just as if he had landed there a hundred times before. We grabbed what was left from our almost empty storage hold and were quickly escorted into the warm shelter of the museum. Taking his place beside the splendidly-decorated Christmas tree and a fireplace strung with Christmas cookies, Santa Dave extended his apologies to the children and thanked them for being so patient. With the weight of keeping to schedule all but lifted now that we had arrived at our final appointment, Dave and Evan took their time in handing out the children's gifts. When all the children had been attended to, including the contingent from the nearby CG Station Montauk, the Flying Santa crew breathed a collective sigh of relief. Wishing everyone a very happy holiday, we packed up the empty toy sacks and headed back out to the helicopter. It was a great finish to a great day of flying and we were content in knowing firsthand that so many children and their families had been entertained by a brief but exciting visit from the Flying Santa of the lighthouses.
Flight 3 - 12/15/02 - New Hampshire & Maine
After a one-day weather delay, the crew for the last of the 2002 flights assembled at the Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. On hand to assist us once again were our veteran pilots Art Godjikian and LaRay Todd. They would be transporting us on our rounds that day in a brand new Agusta 109e helicopter. After loading up, it was a quick hop over to the nearby Portsmouth Harbor Light and Coast Guard station. We were greeted by Officer-In-Charge Mark Cutter and escorted into a mess deck full of excited children. For the early hour on a Sunday morning - 8:00 - this group was surprisingly alert. As Santa neared the bottom of his gift sack, Mark made sure that everyone in attendance had had their turn. And so, right on schedule, we were out the door and back aboard for the next stop on our long list of lights.
Under gray skies, we headed up the coast to our stop at Goat Island Light. Circling the island, we spotted a larger than usual crowd on this small outpost at the entrance of Kennebunkport Harbor. Many trips had been made in the island's small boat to transport the dedicated folks of the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust who look out for and maintain this 3 ½ acre island and its beacon. Our visit here was somewhat bittersweet, as it was our first since the unfortunate passing of the island's longtime keeper/caretaker Dick Curtis. Dick was a unique individual and the connection of this man to Goat Island Light had been a perfect match. Over the years, we had taken much satisfaction and enjoyment in knowing that his anticipation and excitement over our annual Santa visits rivaled that of the children. Before departing, we made a brief stop at the small memorial that has been established in his honor on the west side of the island. He will be missed by all of us at Flying Santa who had the pleasure of meeting him during our all too brief visits. For more information on Goat Island and the Trust, check out their website - www.kennebunkportconservationtrust.org.
Our largest stop of the day was next at Portland Head Light. The crew and families of USCG Group Portland were out in force to greet Santa as he exited the helicopter and took his seat of honor in front of the famous beacon. Assisted by Senior Chief Thomas Dutton of the Aids to Navigation Team South Portland, Santa George set to work handing out nearly 100 gifts to the children. It was a bone-chilling process as we hoped in vain for the sun to break through the stubborn clouds. The distribution went surprisingly quick and we were soon back in the comfort of the Agusta's cabin, thawing out our slightly frozen hands and feet.
Finding ourselves in the unusual circumstance of actually being ahead of schedule, we arrived at our next destination, Burnt Island, just as the boatful of folks was pulling up to the dock. In an effort to give the group time to disembark and make their way across the small island, Art and LaRay treated us to an extended aerial tour of Boothbay Harbor. With the crowd now properly assembled, we made our landing in the small clearing at the center of the island. Greeting Santa George for the eighth year in a row was Elaine Jones of Maine's Department of Marine Resources. Elaine and her group have been at the forefront of the renovation and preservation of the Burnt Island beacon. We enjoyed our visit even more as the sun finally broke free of the crowds. And of course, just before our departure, Santa took part in the traditional hoisting of the tower's massive wreath.
Continuing on our Down East course, we soon found ourselves at the historic Pemaquid Point Light. On hand to greet us along with the area locals were Jane and Warren Blake. Jane's uncle had been none other than Capt. William Wincapaw himself. She had flown with her beloved Uncle Will for the first time back in 1926 at the tender age of two. The Blake's were delighted to know that the Santa tradition started so long ago was still alive and well. After an all too short visit we were back in the air and on course to Marshall Point Light. After a quick but festive visit here, we found ourselves in short time at the Knox County Airport in Rockland. Hosting us once again during our refueling stop and lunch break was Downeast Air's Stenger family. It is here that we do our major restocking of packages. The Stengers and the crew from CG Station Rockland have been extremely helpful in assisting us with this essential task. With a full cargo hold and almost as full stomachs, we were back in the air to our next appointment - the nearby Owl's Head Light.
Due to the steep terrain surrounding the tower at Owl's Head, we are forced to land down the road at a small clearing. It was here that the large crowd from Station Rockland and the adjacent cutters came in to view as we made our scouting pass. After we had settled down and the rotor blades had safely stopped, the children swarmed in on their welcome visitor. On hand was the Andrews family who had been extremely helpful in coordinating our visit. Also present were Jay Rantala and his growing family. Jay is from the Aids to Navigation Team in Boston and had generously offered to transport a large number of our precious packages to the Portland and Rockland area in the days before our flight. He saved us a great deal of time and effort and we offer our sincere thanks.
All too soon, we were back in the air and on our way across the bay to Vinalhaven Island and the small beacon at Brown's Head. Almost every child from the small island community had turned out to greet Santa as we came in for our landing. As always, the kids were equally thrilled with the up-close look at Santa's sleek sleigh as they were with Santa George himself. We had just enough time for a quick group picture in front of the helicopter before we were back on board and on our way to Fort Point Light.
Heading north over the choppy waters of Penobscot Bay, the Agusta's cruising speed of 150 mph soon had us lined up for our approach to the square tower at Fort Point. Presented with a well-secured landing area, we set down in short order in front of the waiving "keepers", Terry and Jeri Cole, and their delighted guests. Santa George soon found himself settled into a comfortable chair (borrowed from the Cole's living room) on the lawn in front of the light. From this restful and photogenic perch, he visited with each of the wide-eyed youngsters. As you know by now, our visits are brief, so as soon as our mission was complete we were politely on our way.
A short five-minute flight and we were at our next appointment with the folks of Castine and the Dice Head Light. We made our customary landing at the spacious accommodations of Fort George and were out the door for a quick visit with the festive crowd. The wind here had quite the bite and we were very happy when the time came for us to climb back aboard our warm sleigh.
We were now off to Bass Harbor Head Light and our Coast Guard friends from Group Southwest Harbor. As always, Karen Vanzura and the other CG spouses connected to the Group had done an outstanding job of assisting us with the gathering of children's names as well as spreading the word of our scheduled arrivals. These individuals and their counterparts at our other CG stops have been a key asset in the handling of all these important logistics. Amongst the crowd of Coasties, were our old friends Dolly and Harold Cummings, two retired lighthouse keepers who rediscovered the Flying Santa tradition a few years back while driving past one of our Bass Harbor landings. Having experienced the excitement of packages dropped by Edward Rowe Snow many years before, they were thrilled to be the recipients of one of our present day gift packages. On behalf of the families of the Group, Commander Hank Haynes and his wife presented the Flying Santa crew with a basket of refreshments for the long flight home as well as a collection of Group Southwest Harbor hats. All of which, was very much appreciated.
Bidding our best holiday wishes to this heartwarming crowd, we were off to our next and final Santa visit - the remote CG station at Jonesport USA. We flew "downeast", with the sun setting off to our left behind the mountains of Acadia National Park. Each time that we go to this distant stop, we are reminded of the fact that much of this trip would not be possible if not for the generous services of Art and LaRay. A standard Jet Ranger would never allow us to cover as much territory as their high-speed Agusta. We are extremely grateful to these two gentlemen for their continued dedication to these flights. After the long haul from Bass Harbor, we settled down onto Station Jonesport's small helipad. The children were gathered patiently at the building's entrance and as Santa George approached, their faces beamed brighter. Once inside, we were escorted to the mess deck, which we found to be as cheerfully decorated as the numerous other stations we had visited in our thee-days of flights. After the gifts had been distributed, the crew presented George with a plaque in honor of the efforts of Flying Santa and, with the assistance of a few of the older children, the inscription was read aloud. The crew and families of the station were quite sincere in their appreciation of our annual holiday visits to their remote community. Our time here quickly came to an end as we moved out to the helo for one last group shot of the day. With the help of so many of our Friends, we had been able to ensure that another generation of Coast Guard families would take home the memories of a special visit from their own Flying Santa.
With just a quick stop for fuel along the way at Rockland, we made our return to the Portsmouth hangar. The flights were over, but Friends of Flying Santa had one more gift to deliver. We had invited our old friend, pilot Dale Hardy who had flown our Santas safely for over 14 years, to meet us upon our arrival. It was with sincere appreciation for all his efforts that we presented Dale a well-packed box of all the traditional components of books, ornaments and miscellaneous food items as well as a Harbour Light replica of Boston Light. The success of this program has been due to the many contributions, large and small, of so many individuals and organizations. We look forward to their continued participation in this small gesture of gratitude to the families of the United States Coast Guard.
By Sally Snowman
I was born into a family of avid Boston Harbor boaters and as a child I developed a love of the islands and lighthouses as well as the lore that went with them. I grew up hearing and reading about Edward Rowe Snow's adventures, especially enjoying his stories about the annual Flying Santa delivery of holiday gifts to lighthouse keepers and their families along the New England coast. Having learned to enjoy and respect boats and the water, I joined the Auxiliary over 26 year ago, following in my father's footsteps. Nine years ago my husband and I began volunteering our Auxiliary time out at Light Station Boston on Little Brewster Island - my most favorite lighthouse. It was at this time that I began seriously thinking about how one becomes a Flying Santa helper. Having been on the island during past Flying Santa visits, I was particularly interested in being an Elf.
My Christmas wish came true in 2002. On Saturday, December 7, 2002 I had the honor of serving as Flying Santa's elf for the Massachusetts lighthouse and Coast Guard Station gift deliveries. It was unlike any other experience I have had in my entire life. On this vibrantly sunny winter's day, I would be joining the Flying Santa aboard the helicopter that was so generously provided by pilot and owner Evan Wile. The tradition of delivering Christmas gifts to lighthouse keepers and their families began in 1929 by Capt. William Wincapaw of Rockland, Maine. He was a float plane pilot who serviced the remote locations along the Maine coast. As a "thank you" for his lighthouse keeper friends who kept the lights burning for the safe passage of both mariners and aircraft, Wincapaw began dropping gifts on Christmas Day to the isolated keepers and their families. Edward Rowe Snow was well-remembered for carrying on the tradition after Wincapaw's passing. In later years, this tradition was maintained by the Hull Life Saving Museum and now Friends of Flying Santa, Inc.
The helicopter was cozy with its four passengers and its cargo of Christmas gifts as it lifted off from Hanscom Airfield in Bedford, Massachusetts at 0730 on its way to our first stop - Newburyport Harbor Light. The two seats in front were occupied by our pilot Evan and our official photographer Brian Tague. In the back were Flying Santa, (aka CWO Dave Waldrip 1D OAN), and me (aka, Elf). Having never been in a helicopter before, I was astonished by the spectacular views of the snow-covered ground below and the blue ocean on the horizon, unable to discern where the ocean ended and sky began. As we approached for our landing, children and adults were waving to us in their anticipation of Santa's arrival.
Having disembarked from the helo, Santa situated himself upon a bench outside the lighthouse. It was my job to take the gifts out of Santa's big green felt bag one-at-a-time, carefully handing them to Santa with the tags visible so the names could be clearly read aloud. Each of the children belonging to active duty personnel from the Newburyport Coast Guard Station patiently listened for their names to be called. Some of the children approached confidently, ooching themselves up onto Santa's lap, while others were cajoled by parents. Once situated on his lap, two questions would come from Santa: "Have you been a good girl or boy this year?" and "What would you like for Christmas?" A few had their answers rehearsed, fluently answering, while others had appeared to be tongue tied, probably due to the excitement of the moment or from shyness. This scene has been forever preserved in my visual memory for years to come.
The third stop was to my most favorite lighthouse, Boston Light. Upon making the approach to land on this one-and-a half acre island, a message written on the snow covered ground read "Merry X-mas Santa". This gave instant remembrances of the old Edward Rowe Snow stories of the many ways lighthouse families that had left such greetings for Flying Santa. The art work was done by MK2 Ben O'Brien and MK3 Carlos Colon who were on duty to receive the large gift box of goodies. I had been on the island via boat the past couple of years to greet Santa. This year had the added excitement of flying to Little Brewster Island and participating in the actual delivery of the gift box. With no children on the island to visit with Santa, we were quickly back aboard the helo and headed for the remaining ten visits on our schedule.
Another memorable stop was to the LORAN Station on Nantucket. There were two reasons for this. First, the youngest child of the day was there - a 6-six-week old infant who had his very first opportunity to be held by Santa! The second was the conversation that I encountered with two little boys who were debating amongst themselves as to whether or not I was a "real" elf. With my big elf ears, I happened to overhear their conversation regarding my height. Apparently, I was too tall to be a "real" elf. One of them queried me, "Are you a real elf?" My reply: "What other kind of elves are there?" His response: "Fake ones!" My response: Having him touch my hand, I asked him, "What part of me is not real?" At this point, he went back to his buddy to continue pursuing the discussion. I wondered if they had lain awake that night contemplating the dilemma.
The end of the trip was fitting as it was near the tip of Cape Cod at Highland Light in Truro. It was dark as we lifted off for home. Having left Bedford shortly after sunrise, I had witnessed the long shadows of early morning, mid-day brightness, a brilliant red-orange sunset, as well as the sights of beautiful holiday lights illuminating neighborhoods, malls, and woods. We arrived back at the hangar a little more than 12 hours after our departure, feeling energized and grateful for such a gift. It was the most incredibly eventful day and I will cherish it forever. This is one more Auxiliary activity to add to my memoirs.
Come and join us for this one-day bus tour of the historic lights from Portsmouth to Cape Ann. Our tour guide and narrator will be lighthouse historian and author Jeremy D'Entremont. The trip will include six lights: Portsmouth Harbor Light at Fort Constitution, Newburyport (Plum Island) Light, the Inner and Outer Newburyport Range Lights, as well as Gloucester's Annisquam Harbor Light and Eastern Point Light. We will stop for lunch at the Starboard Galley in Newburyport. There will be "keepers" at all the lights to share with you their fascinating histories. The tour will leave from the Park & Ride lot off Routes 3 and 228 in Hingham MA at 7:00 AM. The price for this tour is $40.00 PP. Driving directions, information on hotel accommodations and a tour itinerary will be mailed with your tickets. There are only 50 tickets available for this tour, so make your reservations early
This tour consists of a one-day trip to five of the Cape's most magnificent lighthouses. There will be a narrator on board to answer your lighthouse questions and "keepers" will meet us at each light to conduct the tours. The lights we will visit are Nobska Point Light in Woods Hole, Chatham Light at USCG Station Chatham, Nauset Light and the Three Sisters Lights in Eastham. The last light on the tour will be the remarkable Cape Cod (Highland) Light and museum in Truro. There will be a lunch break at the Lobster Pool in Eastham. The cost of the tour is $40.00 PP and is limited to 50 tickets.
All of the lights will be open for touring except the Three Sisters. The tour will depart at 7:00 AM from the Park & Ride lot off Routes 3 and 228 in Hingham MA. Driving directions, information on hotel accommodations and a tour itinerary will be mailed with your tickets. This tour sells out very quickly, so make your reservations early.
We invite you aboard for an evening lighthouse cruise on Boston Harbor featuring music and dancing. We will be cruising aboard the MV Massachusetts from 7:30-10:30 PM, leaving from the commuter dock in Hingham, MA. Along the way we will be sailing past Boston Light, Graves Light and Long Island Head Light as well as the USS Constitution and the spectacular Boston skyline. The evening's music will be provided by a DJ. We will also be featuring an onboard raffle with many lighthouse collectables, plus gift certificates from area restaurants. And of course, there will be our popular 50-50 raffle. This is a great way to enjoy a summer evening with friends and family as you help support Friends of Flying Santa. Tickets are $20.00 per person. Directions to the dock will be mailed with your tickets.
This year we are offering a new and exciting tour for our lighthouse adventurers. To close out our fundraising season, we invite you to come along on a 3-day bus tour of Vermont's Lake Champlain area. You will be given a unique opportunity to tour two of the Lake's, now privately owned, historic lighthouses - Windmill Point Light and Isle la Motte Light. This is a rare chance to explore up-close these two recently relit beacons. We will also be touring the Colchester Reef Light located on the grounds of the Shelburne Museum. A fourth, Juniper Island Light, will be visible during a scenic cruise on the lake. Your two nights of lodging will be at one of the Burlington, VT area's fine hotels. The following are some of the attractions that we will also be visiting during the trip:
If time and weather allows, we might even stop for some fall apple picking on the way home. Of course during the entire trip you will be treated to the spectacular fall foliage that Vermont is famous for. So come along and join us for a great New England adventure and discover the exciting maritime history of Vermont. The bus will be departing and returning to the Park & Ride lot off Routes 3 and 228 in Hingham, MA. For more details, check out our website - www.flyingsanta.org. We expect this tour to be quite popular, so call and reserve your spot today.
Over the past few years, Friends of Flying Santa and Yankee Magazine have joined together in a unique partnership. Through their very popular Community Partnership program, we have been able to offer our friends subscriptions to the magazine at the discounted rate of $20 per year. Their regular rate is $24 per year. With each subscription order placed through the Friends, Yankee donates $8 to the Friends of Flying Santa. If you are interested in receiving or renewing Yankee Magazine please follow the link below. This also makes a great gift for your friends or family. Thanks for your support.