By Sadef Ali Kully
More than a hundred children from PS 29 and the Flushing YMCA boarded a Delta Air Lines plane at Kennedy International Airport Tuesday morning along with Santa’s elves, heading to the North Pole to visit the jolly man in a red suit.
In addition to Santa, Delta’s fifth Holiday in the Hanger featured the Rockettes, Mets, New York Rangers, New York Knicks and Abigail Breslin from the new television series “Scream Queens.”
Every year, Delta Air organizes an elaborate mock flight to the North Pole for children across the city. From entering the airport to check-in and security until they land at the North Pole, the children were escorted through each step by Delta employee volunteers dressed up as elves.
JFK made sure to match the destination on the departure board and check-in area, “North Pole Check-in.”
The children were handed boarding passes to get to the North Pole.
“We do this across the country. JFK and Los Angeles airports are our biggest events,” a Delta spokeswoman said. “But JFK really takes it to the next level—making it even more special.”
Children board the flight and are told to keep the window shades down while they take the Delta 747-400 Series flight to a hangar off the main runway.
“We have a five-hour flight, “ the Delta onboard staff announced. “This plane is the fastest there is and we will get there in 18 minutes,”
About 150 children sang Christmas songs and had cookies for food service on their flight.
“Some of these children have never been on a plane and this is real treat for them.” Flushing YMCA Executive Director Jen Silvers said.
One lucky boy, Bryan Pimento, had the chance to ride in the cockpit before the “take-off for the North Pole.”
The Delta aircraft taxied to the hangar. where a bouncy gingerbread house, sports stars, movie actors, the Rockettes, lots of food, games and Santa Claus waited for the children, who received presents from Toys, Tots, Pets & More, a website for gifts.
The Flushing YMCA has a popular after-school program that provides academic support tailored to students of all ages and includes third-grade students from PS 29 in Flushing, many of whom took the Delta flight.
PS 29, located at 125-10 23rd Avenue, is a Title 1 school, where an estimated 80 percent of students receive free lunches. It has a diverse population of students, according to Principal Jill Leakey-Eisenberg.
A report released Tuesday by the city’s Independent Budget Office said middle-school afterschool programs are in danger of losing funding for over 17,000 students despite an increase in demand for afterschool programs.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull