A Special Trip To The "North Pole" For Terminally-Ill Children In San Antonio
United Airlines is providing the plane for a special Christmas "Fantasy Flight" for 75 terminally-ill children this Saturday, Dec. 7.
The event is a San Antonio-local effort in cooperation with the American Cancer Society.
The "Flight to the North Pole" is an elaborately-staged scenario where the kids arrive at a private airport hangar and are run through security checks with real TSA security agents.
"Once they’re cleared and have their boarding passes, they get on the airplane," said event organizer Connie Harrison.
The United 737 jet then takes off and flies all 75 families around the city before landing at the "North Pole."
"The children -- a lot of them -- really think it is Santa’s workshop when they walk into the hangar," Harrison said.
Harrison said it’s a special opportunity for kids to work in Santa's workshop with the elves and to see Santa’s own airplane with its 32 ft. diameter Santa hat.
"We have a very large hangar and it has pure white floors, and it’s got a 45 ft. Christmas tree that greets them with life-sized dolls and Batman and trucks and cars and everything around it," Harrison said. "And they all come to life and turn on when the kids come in."
Harrison said it takes a lot of people to pull this off including airport police and fire department.
"The children all gather up in the North Pole area, which is a complete city," Harrison said. "We have snow and they get to help the elves make cookies and play games and make things for themselves. And they gather with Mrs. Claus and she explains to them why we don’t use the reindeer anymore and why they’re our pets."
Fantasy Flight made its first trip to the "North Pole" in 1985 and Harrison said it’s an emotional time for the families.
"Not very many children in the United States are born with cancer," she said. "I think the last they told me was that there were only nine known in the U.S. that were actually born with cancer and we have three of them here.”
The event is entirely funded by corporate and private donations and includes efforts from KLOVE Radio and Alamo Heights High School students.