It’s never too early for Ol’ St. Nick to visit the children of fallen firefighters in New York.
Santa Claus arrived in the Big Apple early this year thanks to the help of the FDNY. The jolly Kris Kringle arrived in Midtown Sunday, not on his trademark sleigh, but instead, on the back of a ceremonial fire truck.
Partnering with the F.A.O. Schwarz toy store, the FDNY-Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) made the visit possible as they looked to bring holiday cheer and free gifts to children of firefighters lost in the line of duty.
The famous toy retailer closed for the morning celebration on Nov. 21, as the youngsters got a chance to enjoy some early holiday cheer and have some of their wishes granted.
“This is the 40th holiday party. This party goes a long way to continue our tradition from UFA to always take care of our families and the widows and children. You honor us with your presence. This does a lot for us more than it does for you. Fulfilling our promise to you, it means everything, and we thank you so much for coming and being a part of this. You make our day more than we make yours,” UFA President Andrew Ansbro said to the overflowing crowd at the toy store.
Although giving back to the families of those who gave their lives in service of New York City has been a near half-century affair, it is the first time the party has taken place at F.A.O. Schwarz. Brimming with playthings, the toy store’s staff says they were happy to close for a few hours in order to accommodate the kids.
“It means everything. We’re in this business to make people happy and to know that they can have a moment outside of the crazy that we have in the world. It warms our hearts,” Taylor Bodo, Director of client relations, special events and personal shopping at F.A.O. Schwarz told amNewYork Metro.
In addition to having a toy store as their own personal playground, the children were also taken for a ride around Rockefeller Center on the ceremonial firetruck before being whisked into the air alongside Santa inside a ladder bucket. Parents were overjoyed to see their kids laughing and waving as they whizzed by and handed Santa their Christmas list.
“It’s a real wonderful way to start the season to see your smiling kids. Sometimes I’ve seen you at not so happy times. This is a very happy time,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told attendees.