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Santa Trades in His Sleigh for a Plane

This year Santa traded in his sleigh for a bright, shiny, red biplane on Saturday, Dec. 18 and Sunday, Dec. 19 at Farmingdale’s American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport. Children were bundled up and sipping hot chocolate while waiting their turn to take pictures with Santa Claus then take a taxi ride his red Waco biplane.

Once in the plane, each kid sat in the front seat with a fleece blanket to keep warm, while headphones kept them in touch with Santa’s pilot, Jim Vocell, during a trip up and down the tarmac. Volunteer Mike Moreno portrayed Santa this year.

“I thought the interesting part was how he told me [about] how the plane runs and what it does,” said 10-year-old Brianna Zelman, who came to check out the event for the first time with her mom Donna, twin brother Brendon, and cousins Alex and Zachary.

Donna said, “They had a great time, they loved it; it’s a once in a lifetime thing so they’ll definitely remember that.”

Vocell enjoys offering these family-oriented events on Long Island throughout the year that are fun and tell a story. He said, “I love it because you meet interesting people, you get to talk to them. It’s a little chilly but it’s a good way for people to get together.”

Before going home, people toured the museum with volunteers who shared their war stories. Jim and Cathy Brown brought their son, 11-year-old Sean, as an early Christmas gift.

The Browns said, “We didn’t really know what the museum was and what kind of great things they have here. We wound up talking to the volunteers here and we spent 45 minutes with him and he talked about the bombing runs that he had when he was in the service. It’s just incredible what they’ve got here and it’s a shame that nobody knows about it.”