Flight 1225 nonstop to Santa’s shop

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Photo gallery

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John, 3, and Josh, 5, Sanchez of Jamaica visit with Santa. Josh is being treated for leukemia. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Amir Khan from South Ozone Park greets Santa. More photos Page 26.
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Corona resident Kenia Guzman, 10, waits to board the plane. Guzman is being treated for leukemia.
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Collin Trust, 3, covers his ears as he walks into the North Pole with his mother Sarah.
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Christopher Peaubrun (front), who is being treated for sickle cell, greets a reindeer.
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Rosedale resident Addison Williams, 1, gets a festive outfit thanks to her dad Tshombe. Addison completed treatment for neuroblastoma. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Thaddeus Newgent, originally of Glendale, peers into a holiday display.
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Elf Caroline Mikolajczyk of Floral Park takes a moment before boarding to send a text. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Richmond Hill resident Chris Boodhoo gives his daughter Arianna, 7 months, a kiss aboard the plane. Arianna is being treated for kidney failure.
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Jackie Poeggel, 8, waits patiently with her mother Cindy to board the plane.
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Irisa Perez of Jamaica holds her son Andrew, as daughter Rashel looks on.
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Jared Kowlessar of Jamaica says hello to Santa.
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Santa holds twins Celine-Jean (l.) and Sade Raymond. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Neha Mishra, 6, greets Santa. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Christopher Peaubrun and his mother Natacha are amazed by the North Pole. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Yazmin Guzman's son Ayden, 1, grabs his grandfather Arturo's hat. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Nielly Quinones, 5, poses for a photo with her mother Jennifer. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Jasmine Gonzalez, 10, gets a kiss from her mother Emily. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Ridgewood residents (l.-r.) Elvis Nunez, Letzia Rodriguez and mom Romeyra Rodriguez jingle their bells. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Josie Trust and her father Robert meet a reindeer. Photo by Christina Santucci
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An elf leads carols on the plane. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Alice Jenkins sits with Jaheim Jenkins (l.) and Alexander Thomas. Photo by Christina Santucci

Patients from Cohen Children’s Medical Center took off from LaGuardia Airport and landed at the North Pole Saturday, where they met Santa Claus and received gifts to brighten their day.

“The North Pole is reporting some cold weather and snow,” an on-board flight attendant said.

The plane was decorated with Christmas lights along the overhead bins and the crew told the children to pull down the shades on their windows because Santa did not want anyone to know where his secret workshop was located.

By shaking bells and chanting, “Merry Christmas,” the children powered the plane to the North Pole.

Cohen is a part of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System and is adjacent to LIJ Medical Center.

The North Pole was actually a US Airways hangar at LaGuardia, but the kids and their families received boarding passes, were checked in by volunteering US Airways employees, passed through airport security and took their seats on Flight 1225 to the North Pole.

In reality, it never left the ground but taxied its way to the hangar.

Caran Tobias, a 2-year-old leukemia patient at Cohen, was cheering and screaming throughout the flight.

“She’s excited. She’s on the plane and she’s touching stuff,” said Caran’s father, Eric Tobias, of Huntington, L.I.

“I think it’s a great experience,” he said. “It’s nice to bring families together. We’re kind of grateful for the whole experience. A time like this, it’s really important to all these families.”

When the kids got off the plane and walked to the hangar, they were greeted to a DJ blasting Christmas songs and hugs from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

“I’m excited. It’s beautiful,” said Natacha Beaubrun, of West Hempstead, L.I., whose 4-year-old son Christopher has sickle cell anemia.

Christopher was too elated to comment, instead dashing toward a cotton candy machine.

“It’s really amazing. It’s a wonderful experience. US Airways did a really great job,” said Robert Prust, of Huntington, L.I., whose 3-year-old son Colin is battling leukemia.

“He was excited. He couldn’t sleep last night,” he said of Colin, who asked Santa for a violin and drums for Christmas.

Long Island City resident Irving Rojas has a 2-year-old son who is fighting leukemia. He said the fantasy flight was a welcomed distraction from son Michael’s illness.

“It takes a lot of weight off the shoulders of the parents,” Rojas said. “It’s something different.”

Thereas Zervas, of Lynbrook, L.I., the mother of 6-year-old leukemia patient Laura, said she was touched by the volunteers who made the flight possible.

“This is an amazing thing that everybody does here,” she said. “They’re here with their hearts and you forget about everything. They give [the children] a chance to be kids and run around instead of being in the hospital.”

This is the 15th year the hospital has partnered with US Airways and LaGuardia to fly the kids to the North Pole.

Shoshana Bronner has been a Santa’s helper for the flight for five years.

“It’s a lot of work, but at the end of the night you feel good,” she said.

A similar flight out of John F. Kennedy International Airport was flown Tuesday with patients from Cohen.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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