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This article was prepared for the December 18, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Santa’s Princeton Stop

Since 1975 the owners of Princeton Airport have devised

a unique way of thrilling area families at the same time they help

less fortunate children for the holidays. Each year they open the

hangar doors to await the arrival of an airborne Santa Claus. The

Nierenberg family started the event 27 years ago at a neighboring

airport and brought the tradition to Princeton in 1985.

This Christmas Eve, says airport manager Kenneth Nierenberg,.Santa’s

stop at Princeton Airport on Route 206 will be at 11 a.m. Those who

wish to have their children participate bring a wrapped gift (no more

than 12 inches in size) with the child’s name written in large print

to the lobby of the airport. (Those who have several children, can

wrap the gifts in matching paper and tie them together to expedite

their distribution.) The airport began collecting gifts the day after

Thanksgiving; to participate, call for this year’s deadline.

The most important facet of this event is the collection of gifts

for needy children, says Naomi Nierenberg. Those who wish to participate

are required to bring new, unwrapped gifts of children’s clothing,

books, or toys. These gifts are being collected and distributed through

the Mercer County Board of Social Services. Due to the current economic

climate, the Nierenbergs believe that less fortunate families will

have a very difficult holiday season without help.

Although toys are a common donation choice, practical items such as

scarves, mittens, and other articles of clothing are most welcome

holiday items. If you want to give cash, personal checks made out

to the "Foodbank Network of Somerset County" will also be

collected.

On the day of the event adults are advised to bring the children before

Santa’s arrival and wait in the hangar. Members of the Princeton Airport

Flying Tigers will serve cocoa and cookies, donated by area supermarkets,

and folk singer Pat McKinley leads everyone in holiday songs.

Upon his approach, Santa calls in on the airplane’s radio and his

communication is broadcast to all over the airport’s loudspeaker.

Once safely on the ground, everyone returns to the hangar where Santa

distributes gift individually to each waiting child. The event is

held regardless of weather conditions. The Nierenberg’s remind parents

to bring a camera and well as the kids. Usually the distribution of

the gifts is completed in about two hours and Santa can continue his

journey around the globe.

Santa’s Arrival, Princeton Airport, Route 206, Montgomery

Township, 609-921-3100. Free. Tuesday, December 24, 11 a.m.


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