TUMWATER - Max Holm, 5, of Olympia loves planes and Christmas.
On Sunday, his family combined both at the 10th annual Santa Welcome celebration at the Olympic Flight Museum.
“We’ve gone here for the past four years,” said Max’s mother, Kim. “There used to be 25 people here, and today, it’s crazy. It used to be the best-kept secret here.”
Dozens of families gathered at the museum’s hangar at Olympia Regional Airport to greet Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus as they arrived by helicopter to attend a holiday celebration in the museum.
The museum, which displays actual and replica military aircraft, began hosting the event about a decade ago, said museum executive director Teri Thorning.
After the landing, visitors were entertained by holiday-themed performances by Debbie’s Dance Etc. and a saxophone quartet from Tumwater High School. Children could visit with Santa, portrayed by museum volunteer Chris Mott, in front of a P-51D Mustang.
The event has been a family tradition for Kim Holm’s family, with a photo of Max and Santa taken in front of the Mustang every year for the past four years.
“Max outgrew his bomber jacket that he usually wears in the photo. I think Santa has to bring him another one,” she said.
Rob Torske of Olympia, who brought his grandsons Landon, 5, and Tanner, 9, said they have visited the museum for other events, but it was their first time greeting Santa at the airport.
Tanner and Landon said they both have favorite planes at the museum. “My favorite is a bomber,” Tanner said, pointing to a silver and blue P-51D Mustang, which was active in World War II.
“I love jets,” Landon said.
Torske said his weekend already had some holiday cheer, after he took part in Saturday’s Olympia Toy Run, which collected toys and money to be distributed to needy children.
“We decided to come down and welcome Santa to Olympia,” Torske said. “These kinds of things create a community. It reinforces the fundamentals of the holiday season, like being with family and giving to others.”
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