TUSAYAN, Ariz. - Grade school children from Grand Canyon School celebrated the beginning of winter break with a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the annual holiday fly in at the Tusayan Best Western Premiere Squire Inn.
Around 100 kindergarten through third grade children waited impatiently for Santa's arrival last Thursday.
Papillion Helicopters flew Santa and Mrs. Claus to the hotel as the children watched from the second floor windows.
The event, hosted annually by the Grand Canyon American Legion John Ivens Post No. 42 in collaboration with the Squire Inn had a "Frozen" theme.
Sue Winchester, director of human resources at the Squire Inn, welcomed the children and Mr. and Mrs. Claus to the party.
"We are so happy you are all here," she said.
This marked the 25th year the American Legion and the Squire have offered the students a chance to visit Santa before the student's kick off their holiday break.
The children each received gifts and had snacks and drinks while coloring and making craft projects. One of the gifts they received included handmade hats and scarves provided by the Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion.
"About four years ago we started giving them gloves and hats," said Scott Miller, finance officer of Post 42. "We thought we ought to give them something more than just and apple, orange and a candy cane, so we got the hats and gloves and gave them out. The next year Rebecca Roacha said 'Instead of buying them I want to make them. It's a little more personal.'"
Roacha, of the Ladies Auxiliary, had the help of three ladies to complete the project in time for the party. This year the ladies made 95 hats and scarves to give to the children.
"The Ladies Auxiliary makes all the hats and scarves and the men help us with the apples, oranges and candy canes," Roacha said.
The American Legion looks forward to helping host the event every year," Miller said.
Based on one of their four founding principles of children and youth outreach, a partnership with the Squire was created to co- host the event, allowing the Legion to support and encourage the children in the community.
Winchester said the Squire was happy to co-host the event, which is now something parents and children look forward to every holiday season.
"This is the 25th year that the Squire and the American Legion have had the Santa fly-in," Winchester said. "Kids are now grown up and bringing their kids back because it was such a great memory in their lives. It is a wonderful event. The American Legion is wonderful and the Ladies Auxiliary. We are so pleased to be a part of it."