Volunteer 'Flight' Takes Sick Children to Santa's Workshop for the Day
Every day, hundreds of flights leave Newark Airport, but this year, only one very special plane took off for the North Pole.
Forty children were aboard the United Airlines plane that "flew" to Santa's workshop.
Every year around the holidays, the airline charters several "Fantasy Flights" onboard a real plane, for children suffering from serious illnesses or life-changing conditions.
The planes take the children to the North Pole - which is housed at a different part of the terminal - where Santa, Mrs. Claus and their favorite superheroes are waiting for them.
"Daddy, we're going to the North Pole!" nine-year-old Rita Apont said before her flight from Newark, NJ.com reported.
This year, volunteer flight attendants and pilots dressed up in their best festive attire to take a group from Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Universal Hospital for the ride of their lives.
The passengers on the "North Pole 1" watched flight attendants perform safety demonstrations to the theme of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," while looking out at tarmac employees dressed in elf hats and tinsel. Christmas carols were sung throughout the duration of hour-long "flight".
When they arrived to the North Pole, which was really Newark Airport's Gate C90, the Huffington Post reports, volunteer employees had transformed the gate into a winter wonderland. Santa and other volunteers in costume greeted the children and handed out presents, while playing games to celebrate the holidays.
Yesenia Parker, 14, told NJ.com that this was her third Fantasy Flight. She was paralyzed in 2009, and continues to struggle with health issues. However, onboard the flight to the North Pole, her spirits were raised.
"I'm getting everything I asked for," she said, noting that she had nothing else on her Christmas wishlist.
"This is a wonderful, wonderful situation they've presented for the children," Arthur Anastasia said to CBS New York. He was on the "flight" with his son, Santino, who suffers from leukemia.
"It's a nice opportunity for the kids to get out, enjoy themselves and have fun," Santa told ABC7.