“This community has always held a special place in my heart,” said Santa Claus. “I love starting my big journey here every single Christmas Eve.”
For as long as he can remember, the big guy in the bright red suit and long white beard has boarded a sleigh just outside his workshop at the North Pole, encouraged his trusty team of reindeer to head in the direction of Gander, and headed out.
The world’s time zones have resulted in Gander being the first place in North America to shift from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day just after midnight on Dec. 25 each year, and it’s from here he begins his trek around the world.
It’s a daunting task, he admits, but one he loves to do more than anything else. And, it turns out, Gander is also the place from which he enjoys bidding farewell to the children he has quietly visited over the course of his night-long journey.
“When I am done delivering millions of presents to millions of little ones in countries around the globe, I find myself back in Gander, right about where I started,” said Santa Claus, who took a few minutes to chat with The Beacon in the early morning hours of Christmas Day. “I get to have a little chat with some of the great people who work at the Gander International Airport before I send my team of reindeer home, along with the elves who helped me deliver the presents. They have done a great night’s work, and they need a little break. And, so do I.”
Santa Claus said while he’s busy placing gifts under Christmas trees, his wife, Mrs. Claus, is on her way to their favourite vacation spot. Although Santa Claus wasn’t prepared to say exactly where he was headed, he did give a few hints about the locale.
“I can’t tell you exactly where we’re going to be, but let’s just say there’s lots of sun there, lots of sand, and it’s nice and warm.” - Santa Claus
“Being Santa Claus, it’s not uncommon for photographers to try to follow me wherever I go,” he said, just a few minutes as he was about to board an airplane parked on the airport’s tarmac. “Myself, my wife, and all of our elves work so hard all year long to make sure Christmas is a happy time for children around the world, we really do appreciate being able to get away for a little vacation when the work is all done.
“I can’t tell you exactly where we’re going to be, but let’s just say there’s lots of sun there, lots of sand, and it’s nice and warm. It’s a really nice change from the cold, snowy climate of the North Pole where we spend our time the rest of the year.”
For as long as he can remember, Santa Claus said he had loved coming into Gander, dropping off presents to children in communities all around the area, and then getting back here in time to catch a flight for his vacation.
“Gander is the best place for me to start each year,” he said, as he waved a final farewell before walking through the doors at Departure Gate 34. “It is also the last place I want to see before I hop on a plane and wish everyone around here a very Merry Christmas.”