Leaving Rudolph to get some rest before Christmas, Santa Claus paid a visit to the Kingston General Hospital paediatrics unit using a helicopter on Friday.

In its third year, the event is called “Operation HO HO HO”.

The annual event was done with the help of Canadian Forces members. Santa was picked up in a CH146 Griffon helicopter and taken to the hospital, with the help of several members of CFB Kingston’s helicopter squadron.

Capt. Trevor Hopkins is an organizer. He says stuffed toy bears are purchased with donations collected from military staff to give to the kids. 

Hopkins says this year about 30 stuffed bears in all were handed out.

"It can bring a tear to your eyes when the kids see Santa Claus and they get the bear," says Hopkins. "We love it, we want to give back."

Kingston General Hospital

Flying from CFB Kingston, Santa flew past the hospital paediatrics unit and waved to the kids, and then landed on the hospital’s helicopter pad, before going inside and giving out the toys.

Christine Leinger of Kingston General Hospital says the kids in the paediatrics unit, ranging from newborns to 17, were thrilled with the visit.

"It was an absolutely amazing," she explains they were cheering his name. "Just to see Santa coming out of the helicopter… it was so lovely."

Leinger says events like this are important, especially close to Christmas and the holidays.

"It’s a really hard time of year to be in hospital, and this really just created a positive experience for them, it really brightens up their day. It got them thinking of Christmas and Santa and it was a really awesome distraction for them today."