Santa on the Coast still go­ing strong

Project by Ro­tary Club of Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay on­go­ing for over 50 years

The Labradorian - - Local - BY DANETTE DOOLEY [email protected]

Thanks to the Ro­tary Club of Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay, the tra­di­tion of bring­ing Santa to re­mote com­mu­ni­ties along the Labrador coast is tak­ing place again this year.

It’s a tra­di­tion that has been hap­pen­ing for over half a cen­tury.

The club’s past-pres­i­dent, Ge­off Goodyear, de­scribes com­mu­ni­ties along the Labrador coast as amaz­ing as well as iso­lated.

The Santa to the Coast project is a way to bring the fa­mous man in red and the magic of Christ­mas to chil­dren liv­ing in these com­mu­ni­ties.

The tra­di­tion started 58 years ago, Goodyear said, when the Royal Air Force and the Royal Cana­dian Air Force sta­tioned in Goose Bay be­gan col­lect­ing gifts for chil­dren liv­ing along the coast. The gifts were packed on­board a DeHav­i­land Sin­gle Ot­ter on skis which then headed for the coast.

“When ice con­di­tions per­mit­ted, Santa would land on the har­bour and hold au­di­ence and dis­pense gifts. When con­di­tions were poor, gifts were of­ten dropped by para­chute,” Goodyear said in a write-up about the project.

The Christ­mas project was handed over to the Ro­tary Club of Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay in 1990. The club has been run­ning the project ever since.

Goodyear said there have been some changes over the years. There are now land­ing strips in the com­mu­ni­ties they visit and throw­ing pack­ages from an air­craft is no longer per­mit­ted.

Goodyear was ea­ger to send ac­co­lades to Uni­ver­sal He­li­copters and Air Bo­re­alis (formerly Air Labrador) for their un­wa­ver­ing sup­port of the project over the years.

“Ro­tar­i­ans and their fam­i­lies and var­i­ous com­mu­nity groups gather two days be­fore (the trip to the north) at Uni­ver­sal He­li­copters’ hanger and we pack up to 700 gift bags for the kids,” Goodyear ex­plained. “It’s an assem­bly-line for­mat and we have a great time.

“Then the gifts are trans­ferred to the Air Bo­re­alis’ op­er­a­tions where they load it all aboard a DeHav­i­land Twin Ot­ter. Any space that’s left is stuffed with Ro­tar­i­ans who dou­ble as Santa and his elves.”

This year’s ad­ven­ture is planned for Dec. 15 when Santa will be trav­el­ling to Rigo­let, Postville, Makkovik and Hope­dale.

“Vis­ited com­mu­ni­ties usu­ally take this op­por­tu­nity to hold grand hol­i­day events in­clud­ing Santa Claus pa­rades,” Goodyear noted. “There are al­ways large crowds to greet Santa de­spite tem­per­a­tures which can dip as low as -30C.

“The pro­gram con­tin­ues to be a great cat­a­lyst not only for club fel­low­ship, but also for con­nect­ing with re­mote re­gional com­mu­ni­ties.”

Goodyear has been photodoc­u­ment­ing the project for about a decade.

“To see those chil­dren come out on the ramp to see Santa is re­ally some­thing. It’s a phe­nom­e­nal start to Christ­mas both per­son­ally and for the (Ro­tary) club,” he said.

Cur­rent Ro­tary Club pres­i­dent

• Saun­ders St

• Corte Real, Lower Mark­land

• Up­per Mark­land,

Cartwright Rd

• Ter­ring­ton Lane, Goose Ave

• Hamil­ton River Rd Mike Spurrell has been part of the Santa to the Coast project for the past eight years. He has had the plea­sure of as­sist­ing Santa on two trips to the North.

“I am truly proud of the long­stand­ing com­mit­ment that this club and its mem­bers, as well as its com­mu­nity and busi­ness part­ners, have taken on for so many years,” Spurrell said via e-mail.

There is a tremen­dous amount of be­hind the scenes in pre­par­ing for Santa to the Coast, he said.

How­ever, for Spurrell, and the other Ro­tar­i­ans, the re­ward is well worth the ef­fort.

• Roberts, Cooper

• Groves, Miche­lin, Camp­bell

• Clin­ton Street, NorthS­tar Drive, No­mad

“To see the joy on the faces of the chil­dren, par­ents and el­ders alike when we land with Santa and start hand­ing out those pack­ages is truly heart­warm­ing and re­ally brings out the mean­ing of the Christ­mas Sea­son for so many of us,” Spurrell said. Con­tact at or email

to­day to in­quire about avail­able routes listed be­low!

Chil­dren in Hope­dale wait­ing for their presents.


A young boy in Nain wait­ing for the presents to come off the plane.

Re­cip­i­ents of the pro­gram thank­ing Santa.

The gift pack­ing team for the Santa to the Coast project.

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