After an absence of seven years, the Flying Santa will return to Maine lighthouses this year. With the help of Fisher Scientific of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, who will be flying Santa in their company helicopter, Santa will be visiting the Maine lighthouses at Portland Head, Pemaquid, Marshall Point, Browns Head, and Dice's Head.
The weekend of December 15, the Flying Santa is scheduled to visit 25 lighthouses in five states.
The flights were established in 1929 by Capt. William Wincapaw as a gesture of gratitude and appreciation for the keepers and their families. He loaded his plane with gifts and dropped packages at the lighthouses around Penobscot Bay.
The story was picked up by newspapers around the world and with a host of sponsors, Wincapaw was soon flying to 117 lighthouses every Christmas. In 1936, Wincapaw was joined by author/historian Edward Rowe Snow, who later became the sole Flying Santa.
Snow was popular with the lighthouse keepers and the general public who bought his New England books as fast as he could write them. In 1981, after 43 years as the Flying Santa, Snow suffered a stroke and the Flying Santa program was taken over by the Hull Lifesaving Museum.
With automation, the Flying Santa program was nearly lost. However, thanks to many dedicated volunteers, the program survives. The current Flying Santa visits lighthouses that have caretakers or Coast Guard personnel living nearby.
Since the program is operated by volunteers, donations are graciously accepted. For more information, check the Friends of Flying Santa website at www.flyingsanta.org.
This story appeared in the
November 1995 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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