Santa Claus switches the reindeer for a helicopter
NEW CANAAN — Mr. Claus, in what has been an on-and-off yearly tradition in New Canaan, is letting his reindeer rest up for Christmas as he opts for an arrival to town by helicopter Saturday.
“There is no snow so how is Santa going to come by sleigh? He has to come by helicopter” joked John Strba.
John is the father of Gregg Strba, who founded Gregg’s Garden Center over 20 years ago.
“We came up with the original idea about 20 years ago. We just do it for the people and the kids. The adults get excited, too, because they get to see a helicopter up close,” John Strba said.
John Kjekstad will be the helicopter pilot responsible for Santa’s arrival on Saturday morning. Kjekstad is the owner and operator of Helicopter Flight Services. With more than 11,000 hours of helicopter and fixed wing experience, Santa and company can expect to be in safe hands.
“I recommend you get to the event early, around 10 a.m. because it gets crowded and you may not be able to park,” John Strba added. Santa is expected to arrive at 10:45 a.m.
Saturday, Dec. 9 at 10:45 a.m. (come early)
Mead Memorial Park at 241 Park St.
A firetruck will escort Santa after his arrival to 21 Grove St. (Gregg’s Garden Center), hot chocolate will be provided
Tucker Murphy, executive director of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, made the announcement of the helicopter ride at the Holiday Stroll along with First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. Both Murphy and Moynihan will be accompanying Mr. Claus in his aerial journey.
“I’ve been on helicopters a few times for business travel, but never with Santa,” Moynihan said Wednesday evening. “My four grandchildren will be at Mead Park to greet us and it should be a fun event.”
The event is privately sponsored by Gregg’s Garden Center, located at 21 Grove St. by Weed & Duryea, Baskin Robbins, New Canaan Diner and Helicopter Flight Services. The town provides the police and volunteers to direct traffic.
Lt. Jason Ferraro of the New Canaan Police Department said the “event is attended by hundreds of families from New Canaan. The event is staffed with personnel from all of New Canaan’s emergency services including the Police Department, the Fire Department, the New Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the Community Emergency Response Team.”
With so many residents expected to attend, Ferraro suggested people park their cars in Mead Park and the surrounding lots.
Barry Coleman, manager at Weed & Duryea was unavailable for comment.
Following the helicopter ride, Santa will be escorted in a firetruck to the Garden Center in Weed & Duryea at 21 Grove St. Santa will be at the Garden Center for approximately four hours.
“We will have hot chocolate and cotton candy for the kids there,” John Strba said.