Santa lands at the Janeway Children's Hospital to bring cheer where it's needed most

Santa's elves from the 103 Search and Rescue squadron in Gander hooked him up with a helicopter ride to the Janeway Children's Hospital. The reindeer, he said, took a much-needed day off.

The big guy gave the reindeer a rest and took a Cormorant helicopter instead

Five-month-old baby Neveah met Santa for the very first time at the Janeway on Thursday. (Gary Locke/CBC)

There were smiles in every room and hallway at the Janeway Children's Hospital in St. John's Thursday when Santa dropped in for a visit.

This year, he let his reindeers rest at home.

Instead, he hitched a ride on a Cormorant helicopter, provided by the 103 Search and Rescue Squadron in Gander.

Santa waved to the kids as he stepped off the Cormorant helicopter. (Gary Locke/CBC)

"We have a little more horsepower than the reindeer," said pilot leader Peter Wright.

"I guess we'll share the load, as they have a big job on Christmas."

The man in red was greeted by a gaggle of kids waiting at the front door.

There were also a few teary-eyed staff members standing by.

"I don't think there was a dry eye out there," said Arlene Scott, regional director with the Janeway's children's health program at Eastern Health.

Precious cargo

Santa's helpers from Gander's 103 squadron followed close behind, carrying a tub of their precious cargo: presents for all of the kids.

Santa's elves from Gander's 103 Search and Rescue Squadron haul in the presents to the Janeway Children's Hospital. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Once inside, he visited children in all the different wards and departments, whether they were staying the night or just there for the day, giving them gifts and listening to their Christmas wishes.

"Anywhere there's a little child, he'll drop by," Scott said.

Nine-year-old Anja Ratsimandresy gets a present from Santa. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Nine-year-old Anja Ratsimandresy even had something to give back to Santa: his Christmas letter, letting Santa know what he'd like to find on Christmas morning.

"I want a surprise," he said.

Visits every year

Santa visits the Janeway every year, but his trip on the Cormorant this year was pretty special.

"We're so pleased to have the Gander Search and Rescue squadron with us, they provide excellent service to us for sick children, transporting them across the province," said Scott.

"It's such a special treat to have Santa arriving that way."

This little girl's eyes lit right up as Santa approached the Janeway Children's Hospital. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Santa will be back to the Janeway on Christmas Eve when he does his rounds across the province and the world. He said that visit is also a "very, very special visit."

"[On Christmas Eve] we're in pediatric intensive care and the neonatal unit. And there's tiny, tiny, tiny little babies and it is an amazing, amazing experience."

'Things are looking good' for Christmas

He's taking the wish lists and letters from the Janeway kids back to the North Pole where, with the help of his elves, he'll do his "very, very best" to fill them.

Santa will be back on Christmas Eve to visit the children at the Janeway. (Gary Locke/CBC)

In the meantime, he's grateful for the ride from the Gander Search and Rescue crew, as it gives his reindeers an important day of rest before the big night.

"Things are looking good, we're counting on the weather people, Santa's all ready," he said.

"There's nothing more important for Santa than to keep the dream alive for little girls and boys all over the world."

Santa visited all the kids at the Janeway, whether they were in for the day or there for a while. (Gary Locke/CBC)