Children at St. Mary’s Hospital in Bayside on Dec. 2 were treated with holiday cheer through a special visit from members of the FDNY for a special celebration. The firefighters were joined by multiple costumed guests, including Santa Claus and Mr. Met.
Santa Claus arrived from the hospital’s roof to spread holiday cheer to the hospital’s young patients. A choir of Bayside High School students were on hand to entertain those in attendance by performing holiday songs. Presents were also given out to the kids.
According to Damian DeMolina of Ladder 167, it’s been a tradition for at least 20 years for the FDNY to bring cheer to the kids at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children through a drive-by from fire trucks and bringing Santa Claus along to entertain the kids. This year marked the first time the event was held since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
DeMolina said the event originated from one member of Ladder 167 coming to the hospital and bringing presents to the kids. It wasn’t long before more members of the fire house joined the member in delivering smiles and presents to the children of St. Mary’s. Over time, it evolved into the kind of event it is now.
“[Seeing the kids’ joy] is what it’s all about,” DeMolina said. “Their faces as soon as they hear the jingles come over the radio, it’s priceless. It really hurt our hearts the last two years being unable to do it. It’s tradition. You wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.”
According to Ladder 167 Lt. Vincent Sottile, the firefighters look forward to cheering up the kids through this event. In addition to purchasing gifts themselves, the fire department also collects gifts donated from local businesses. He also noted that the holiday cheer they bring isn’t just limited to the kids.
“The staff looks forward to us coming for this too,” Lt. Sottile said. “We’re just trying to make it bigger and bigger and bigger for the kids.”
One staff member from St. Mary’s, Claire Mahon, noted how the event has grown over time since she started working for the hospital seven years ago. She said community involvement has noticeably increased with each passing year.
“I think the event was on a bigger scale [before COVID-19], but I think even just having anything on a smaller scale after COVID is so beneficial,” Mahon said. “I’m just excited for the kids and the staff as well. We look forward to seeing how the kids react to it. The anticipation and the excitement for the kids [when they actually see Santa Claus], to see the laughter and the smiles, it’s great. It gets better and better every year.”