A perfect team of childhood heroes were in Bayside on Friday to deliver holiday gifts to patients at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children.
Santa Claus and firefighters of Engine Company 320 and Ladder Company 167 continued an annual tradition by delivering presents to St. Mary’s in an amazing spectacle which saw Ol’ St. Nick climbing down the hospital roof from the ladder of a fire truck.
Children were bundled up in warm coats to watch the display, which concluded in a celebration where Santa, a team of firefighters and Jingle the Elf gave out presents. Red Cross member Sheryl Miller also led the FDNY carollers in a rousing round of holiday songs.
Those youngsters who were unable to come outside for the display were treated to a merry visit from the whole team right in their hospital rooms.
Firefighter Vinny Sottile, who helped arrange for Santa’s visit, has been participating in the annual holiday event for each of his 13 years with Ladder 167.
According to Sottile, the annual holiday gift event has taken place for the past 16 years, and has grown larger with each passing year.
Around $3,000 worth of presents were donated by organizers at Engine 320 Ladder 167 and participating local businesses, including Donovan’s Grill and Tavern, Raindew pharmacy, PC Richards and Son on Francis Lewis Boulevard and Engine Company 306 of Bayside.
Sottile said that it was heartwarming to help patients at the hospital, which falls within the area served by the fire house.
“It’s just a fantastic feeling to bring a smile to these really sick kids along with the rest of my guys,” Sottile said. “We love doing it, we can’t wait until this time of year rolls around.”
He encourages other people to volunteer their time or donate funding or presents to the organization because it brings a light into the lives of children who may face difficult health challenges.