December 2004


75th Anniversary Dinner

By Jeremy D'Entremont


When pilot Captain William H. Wincapaw piled a dozen packages of gifts into his seaplane and dropped them at Maine lighthouses on Christmas Day in 1929, he couldn't have dreamed he was inaugurating a tradition that would still be going strong three-quarters of a century later. The popular New England historian Edward Rowe Snow continued the flights for more than 40 years. After his passing in the early '80s, the mantle was passed to the Hull Lifesaving Museum in Massachusetts. Today the Friends of Flying Santa maintain the tradition, visiting lighthouses and Coast Guard stations in the Northeast by helicopter primarily as a means of showing appreciation to Coast Guard personnel and their families.

On November 13, 2004, a 75th Anniversary Dinner held by the Friends of Flying Santa attracted close to 100 people to the Coast Guard station in Boston. The event was MC'd by Chief Warrant Officer Dave Waldrip, who is a trustee for the nonprofit group and also has played the role of Santa for many of the present-giving flights for the past decade. Also present was CWO Tom Guthlein, who's been playing Santa for seven years.

I had the privilege of presenting a PowerPoint presentation on the rich legacy of these flights. Ed McCabe of the Hull Lifesaving Museum, who became the first Flying Santa after Edward Rowe Snow, gave an entertaining talk and told how any cynicism he harbored when embarking on his Santa role was quickly dispelled by the innocence of the children at the lighthouses.

Lory Newmeyer and Ed McCabe of the Hull Lifesaving Museum
with RADM David Pekoske

Rear Admiral David P. Pekoske, Commander of the First Coast Guard District, spoke about the Coast Guard's expanded role in today's world and expressed deep gratitude for the Flying Santa visits each holiday season. Admiral Pekoske lives at Hospital Point Lighthouse in Beverly, Massachusetts, where a package was dropped from the Santa helicopter last year for his predecessor, Rear Admiral Vivien S. Crea.

A letter from Dolly Bicknell, daughter of longtime Santa Edward Rowe Snow, was read at the dinner, as she was unable to attend. Dolly flew with her parents on the Santa flights from 1951 through 1980. "The Flying Santa was always a big part of my life," she wrote. "Early every December our cellar would become Santa's workshop. Our ping-pong table would be covered with candy, razor blades, dolls, toys, pens, pencils, wonderful balloons, paperback books… and an autographed copy of my father's latest book… Eventually I realized that not every family celebrated Christmas this way, and very few children could claim that their father was a Santa Claus!" Dolly said that she is very pleased with the efforts of the Friends of Flying Santa under the leadership of President Brian Tague. "My family and I wish the Flying Santa all the best, and hope once again to become more involved in the Flying Santa tradition," she concluded.

A note was also read from Seamond Ponsart Roberts of New Orleans. Seamond was the recipient of a doll from the Flying Santa when her father was keeper at Massachusetts' Cuttyhunk Light in 1945. The doll was broken when it landed on a rock, but Edward Rowe Snow atoned by hand-delivering a doll by helicopter the following year. During the 2003 holiday season, Seamond journeyed north and flew as an "elf" with the Flying Santa to lighthouses in Massachusetts. "That was a top event of my lifetime," she wrote. "Talk about being Queen for a Day. That was it! The BIG thing was seeing the children… I never thought as a child with MY Flying Santa that when I got old I would see other children -- and from the eyes of a grandma -- still having all the joy of that special moment when the Flying Santa came especially to see them… May the Flying Santa go on forever!"

RADM David Pekoske and Ken Black unveiling Wincapaw memorial plaque

At the evening's climax, Admiral Pekoske and Maine's "Mr. Lighthouse," Ken Black, unveiled a rendering of a memorial plaque in honor of Captain Wincapaw. The plaque will eventually be installed at the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland, scheduled to open later this year. Wincapaw gained fame as a pilot in Rockland in the 1920s and '30s. The collection of lighthouse lenses and other artifacts amassed by Ken Black over the years at the Shore Village Museum is being relocated to the larger Maine Lighthouse Museum on Rockland's waterfront.

Wincapaw memorial plaque

A number of New England helicopter pilots and companies have donated the costs of the flights in recent years. Pilots Dale Hardy, Art Godjikian, LaRay Todd, Evan Wile and George Luzak attended the dinner. These pilots are all members of the New England Helicopter Council - - and have been an indispensable part of the Flying Santa program. As Brian Tague says, "Without the pilots and their helicopters, we'd be the Driving Santas!"

The dinner was capped by a raffle featuring many items donated by Lighthouse Depot, Harbour Lights and others. See you at the 100th anniversary dinner in 2029!

Note: Special thanks to all the CG personnel, lighthouse groups and friends who attended the event. Your support and participation is greatly appreciated. We would also like to thank Capt. Ted Montgomery, Commanding Officer of ISC Boston for the use of the ISC function hall.

Preparations underway for 2004 Flights


The volunteers of Friends of Flying Santa are hard at work preparing for this year's flights. We will be taking to the air for three days of flights this Christmas. Our first day will cover the coasts of New Hampshire and Maine, including the following stops: Portsmouth Harbor, Goat Island, Portland Head, Burnt Island, Pemaquid Point, Owl's Head, Brown's Head, Fort Point, Dice Head, Bass Harbor Head and USCG Station Jonesport. Once again, pilots Art Godjikian and LaRay Todd of Fisher Scientific will be providing Santa's sleigh services with our veteran Santa Dave Waldrip performing the gift giving duties. On board as our special guest for the first half of the flight will be Bill Wincapaw, the grandson of Capt. Wincapaw. Bill will be traveling up from Florida to help us commemorate the 75th anniversary of his grandfather's flight. So once again, a Wincapaw will be in the air delivering gifts to the lighthouses and Coast Guard stations of the Maine coast.

Our second day of flying will cover lights and stations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York. Evan Wile will be donating his helicopter and pilot services for the day. We will be visiting children at the following lighthouses and stations: Cape Cod Canal, West Chop, Nobska Point, Warwick, Prudence Island, Castle Hill, Point Judith, Lynde Point, Stratford Point and Eaton's Neck. Tom Guthlein will be donning the red suit for the flight.

The following weekend we will be making our Massachusetts flight thanks again to the generosity of pilot Evan Wile. Santa Dave will be back in the air for his second flight of the season. Our aerial tour will visit USCG stations and lighthouses from Newburyport to the Cape and Islands. The list of stops includes: Newburyport, Annisquam Harbor, USCG Station Gloucester, Boston Light, USCG Station Point Allerton, Scituate, Plymouth, Brant Point, Chatham and Cape Cod (Highland) Light. We will also be making a special aerial delivery to RADM David Pekoske and his family at Hospital Point Light.

We look forward to seeing all our Coast Guard and lighthouse friends as we take to the skies for the 75th year of the Flying Santa tradition.


2004 Fundraising Events


We would like to thank everyone that participated in our 2004 fundraising events. The lighthouse bus tours of Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut were extremely enjoyable. Special thanks to Harbour Lights for their generous donations of lighthouse collectibles for our raffles. We would also like to thank the many individuals and organizations that opened up their lighthouses for our tours. Your hospitality is always greatly appreciated.

We are working on plans for our 2004 fundraising events. In addition to our Lighthouses of Bermuda tour we hope to offer several other one to three day tours around New England for our enthusiastic lighthouse fans. We will keep you posted with additional details in the coming months. So be sure to check our newsletter and website for more information and feel free to contact us if you have any questions about our upcoming tours.


Gift Items
We would like to take this opportunity to remind our friends that Friends of Flying Santa offers a fine selection of apparel sporting the Friends logo. Our hats, sweatshirts, polo shirts and T-shirts are available in most popular sizes. For more information on our full line of gift items, check out our Gift Items page.


Letter from Board of Trustees concerning George Morgan


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