Christmas came early in San Francisco for a handful of special kids and their families. The Make-A-Wish Foundation partnered with United Airlines for the fourth year to put on its Fantasy Flight to the North Pole for children from four local hospitals.
Right when families checked in at the elaborate Christmas-themed ticket counter, the kids received big teddy bears from Build-A-Bear, Santa hats, reindeer antlers and other festive accessories. Seeing the children’s eyes light up as they eagerly approached the decked out terminal and rushed towards their departure gate was such a special sight.
While waiting to board the flight the kids got their faces painted, had the chance to hang out with Olympic Gold Medalists Kristi Yamaguchi and Michael Johnson, play catch with Oakland A’s great Vida Blue, and take pictures with their favorite bay area mascots.
This unique holiday experience gave these children and their families a stress free day to fly around the Bay Area in a Christmas 747 aircraft and land in a winter wonderland. Once everyone was on the plane you could hear everything from nervous first time flyers to excited Fantasy Flight patrons as we took off towards the “North Pole”. Unfortunately about halfway through the flight the Captain announced that due to some ice storms we wouldn’t be able to land, luckily his quick contact with the big man Santa himself arranged to meet us in mid air and come visit the kids on the plane. Christmas cheers were heard loud and clear along with caroling as Santa came through the aisles to meet the kids.
Our plane landed at a different gate that was transformed to look like the North Pole, complete with giant sleighs, nutcrackers, red and green balloon arches and a snow machine! The kids were greeted with more gifts and the parents a 200-dollar gift card to Target to buy Christmas presents. Everyone lined up to sit on Santa’s lap, make one more Christmas wish and take a holiday portrait to make this unique holiday memory last a lifetime.