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Santa by plane

Peter Crnogorac
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 13/06) - It's Dec. 3 and the Canadian North plane is zooming toward Norman Wells.

Look around the plane and you'll hear and see the normal sights and sounds.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Santa Claus (Cody Peterson) and his elf helper Francis Delaplain land in Norman Wells with a bag for full of goodies for the kids, Dec. 4. The pair were heading up the Mackenzie Valley, bringing gifts all along the way. - Peter Crnogorac/NNSL photo

There goes the stewardess with her amicable smile and armful of snacks. Across the aisle, a man in a business suit, with a laptop on the seat beside him, snores rhythmically.

Suddenly, above these sounds, you hear in the distance the happy laughter of a child. This in itself is nothing strange, you think, but now as the cry becomes more audible -- and gleeful -- your eyes are pulled to the backseat of the plane where the child is staring at a man sitting there.

Could it be?, you say to yourself as you catch a glimpse of the man's beard. No, it couldn't be, you think, as you do a double-take, and look closer at the man in red. Then the enormity of it hits you -- it's Santa Claus.

Flights like this one have been occurring since the early 1990s. Santa Claus (Cody Peterson this year) and his elf helper (Francis Delaplain) are part of Canadian North's tradition of sending the jolly elf to smaller outposts in the NWT where kids may not usually get to meet him.

"Canadian North and Santa have collaborated for the last 13 years to bring Christmas joy to the children of the NWT and Nunavut," says Tami Johnson, marketing coordinator with Canadian North.

When the plane lands in Norman Wells on Dec. 3, Santa and his elf are the first off and into the airport, where about 100 excited kids and their parents cheer when they see the jolly man approach.

Santa lets out a raucous ho-ho-ho and quickly begins meeting all the kids in the line.

He shakes each child's hand with gusto and laughs often.

"It's just amazing to see how excited and overjoyed the kids are," he says on the flight back to Yellowknife.

Santa said one place in particular stood out in his travels.

"Cambridge Bay was just crazy," he said.