Santa shows his flight versatility

rboone@theolympian.comDecember 3, 2012 

Hundreds of children were thrilled to see Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by helicopter Sunday at the Olympic Flight Museum, even though plenty of parents probably will be left explaining why there were no sleigh or reindeer.

Still, that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm for the museum’s annual Santa Welcome, an event in its 14th year in which the museum is transformed into a holiday destination and children get to sit on Santa’s lap and ask for that special gift.

This year not only did Santa arrive in a helicopter, but the helicopter dropped candy to the children below, something the museum revived after an absence of several years, museum Executive Director Teri Thorning said.

The bay doors at the museum, located at Olympia Regional Airport, opened shortly after 1 p.m., then hundreds of children rushed out to a designated spot to watch Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrive. The helicopter did one flyby – Santa waving vigorously to the children – then candy was dropped and the helicopter landed.

Santa then disembarked and handed out even more candy, mobbed by the children around him. About 500 adults and children attended Sunday’s Santa welcome, Thorning said.

Once inside, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, played by Chris and Peggy Mott, took their places, followed by a long line of children and their parents.

Some of the first children to meet Santa were brothers Zane and Simon Brocx of Tumwater. Zane, who said he was 73/4 years old, asked Santa for a dinosaur that can be transformed into an airplane, while Simon, 4, asked for a dinosaur that can be transformed into a truck.

One other highlight of the event was the large Christmas-themed centerpiece designed by Jeff Stephens, a museum volunteer and director of maintenance for Associated Aviation of Gig Harbor.

Using hundreds of toys and dolls, plus a toy train that runs around a portion of the layout, the holiday centerpiece shows Santa Claus at home at the North Pole.

One area of the centerpiece, which is set up around a P-51 Mustang fighter plane at the museum, also shows Santa and Mrs. Claus, and their friends, gathered around a bonfire for a singalong.

Stephens said it takes him about two weekends to set everything up. The North Pole design will be on display all month, he said.

The Olympic Flight Museum is open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children 7 to 12. Children 6 and younger get in free.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 @rolf_boone

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