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Santa to ride Coast Guard "sleighs" to Kodiak Island villages


KODIAK, Alaska - Crews aboard Coast Guard helicopters and the Cutter SPAR are scheduled to ferry Santa and his elves to eight native villages on Kodiak Island this week.

Santa, along with his helpers, will be visiting the remote villages of Port Lions, Ouzinkie, Danger Bay, Karluk, Larsen Bay and Akhiok aboard Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk and HH-65 Dolphin helicopters. These Air Station helicopters are transformed into specialized "sleighs" to carry Santa, his helpers and his gift bags to the Kodiak Island villages. Santa is scheduled to take the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR to Old Harbor Wednesday and plans to drive to the village of Chiniak later this week.

Air Station Kodiak helicopter crews and members of the cutter SPAR have participated in Santa to the Villages on Kodiak Island for more than 30 years. The crews bring the joy of Christmas to the surrounding villages on Kodiak Island as a part of a community outreach.

"It's wonderful for the kids," said Arnold Kewan, board president of the Native Village of Port Lions Tribal Council. "They've come out here since I was in school and I'm 45 years old. It gives the kids a chance to believe in Santa, which Santa is out there, and it makes them think about what they want to do in their lives when they see the helicopters fly over the villages."

The Spouse's Association of Kodiak organizes the event and works year round to support it by working with the schools, tribal councils and the community of Kodiak City to raise funds and collect donations. More than 250 children will receive gifts from this outreach.

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