Chopper swoops Santa to Royal Columbian Hospital

Rudolph may no longer have the Right Stuff.

Thursday, Santa Claus stabled his reliable reindeer for a flight aboard a sleek and speedy Helijet air ambulance to visit kids at Royal Columbian Hospital. This was no languid tourist tour to take in the sights.

"We have about 650 horses on there," said Helijet President and CEO Danny Sitnam who was on hand to ensure the chopper's special passenger arrived swiftly and safely. "We did a lot of checking, checking it twice actually around that aircraft. The aircraft is running good and Santa said let's go."

Upon disembarking and making his way along the gantry to the hospital, the big guy himself couldn't wipe the grin off his face. Then again that's his usual demeanor this time of year.

"It's different from being in the sleigh, but it's fun," said Santa.  "It's nice to let somebody else drive for a change."

Inside the hospital, navigating the twisting halls and crowded elevator to the pediatric ward, Santa's smile was infectious as passing patients and staff stopped to wave, offer a handshake, snap a photo.

"Some of the kids here might not be able to be home for Christmas, so I'm glad to stop by and brighten up their day," said Santa.

That was certainly the case for Adrian Nicholson-Commanda who was on his way to surgery to correct an issue with his feet when he plopped down beside the jolly gent. They shared some jokes, Santa's elf dug out a toy from his expansive bag of goodies and then the Hope teenager was off to pre-op, his jitters soothed.

That's just what paramedic Fernando Grossling likes to see.

"Hospital stays can be difficult for children and events like this can help to brighten spirits," he said.

And with that, Santa was off to make his own unique version of rounds.



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