About 60 children, many of whom live in shelters or transitional housing, depart Spokane, Washington with a “passport” to the North Pole and a personal “elf” that takes each child under their wing.
Volunteers are required to dress in their best elf-wear and develop their individual elf history to help the kids believe their North Pole adventure is real. The flight crew usually dons Santa hats or antlers. The annual event is organized by nonprofit Northwest North Pole Adventures, and numerous companies donate jet fuel, food, toys and other items.
After passing through airport security, the children are presented with backpacks. They’re greeted at the Alaska boarding area with festive music and food.
Just before it’s time to board the plane, the elves begin shouting, “We’re going home! We’re going home!” The children and elves board an Alaska jet given the call sign Santa 1, and the plane departs into the sky above Spokane.
Halfway through the 40-minute flight, the children are instructed to close their window shades and recite a magical chant that would allow them to enter Santa’s airspace. Minutes later, they arrive at the “North Pole” – in reality, a spruced-up hangar at the end of the Spokane airfield. It has been transformed into a glittering fantasyland of Christmas fun with decorations, games, jugglers, magicians, face painters, a Polar Express train set, and fancy sugar cookies and other sweets.
Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive, and each child gets to visit Santa and receive a gift they previously requested in a wish letter.
“I’ve never had my own blanket before,” one little girl told her elf at last year’s event.
After leaning her pillow against her elf, she snuggled up for story time.
So, on your next Alaska Airline flight, check the seat pocket .. if you find some glitter, it's some leftover Christmas magic for you to enjoy!