Operation HOHOHO brings holiday cheer to young patients at KGH

A Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-146 Griffon helicopter landed at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC)’s Kingston General Hospital (KGH) helipad today, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, as part of Operation HOHOHO, an annual event that brings holiday cheer to the hospital’s young patients and their families.

With the help of his friends in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Santa Claus arrived in grand style aboard the CH-146 Griffon, with help from the 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron. Aided by volunteer elves from 1 Wing Headquarters here in Kingston, he delivered gifts of cuddly teddy bears to a group of delighted kids receiving care at the KGH site, KHSC explained.

Operation HOHOHO first got off the ground in Toronto in 2003. After seeing their colleagues spreading holiday cheer in other Canadian cities, soldiers at 1 Wing Headquarters made certain the event landed in Kingston, as well.

Santa Claus himself disembarks the CH-146 Griffon headed for the pediatrics ward at KGH, with a handful of jingle bells, a bag full of presents, and flanked by his trusty elves. Photo by Logan Cadue.

“Operation HO HO HO is a great way for us to give back to the local community,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Chung Wong, Commanding Officer of 1 Wing Headquarters. “While we hope it’s a memorable experience for the kids to see Santa arrive by helicopter, the event is incredibly rewarding for me and my colleagues.”

For the children and families in need of care so close to the holidays, the festive visit was just what the doctor ordered, said Kerri-Lee Bisonette, manager of the KHSC pediatrics program.

“We’re thrilled when 1 Wing offers to escort Santa directly to the hospital,” she said. “It’s a magical experience for the kids and brings lots of positive holiday spirit to their hospital stay.”

It isn’t always Rudolph guiding Santa’s ways; sometimes, he takes a little direction from his elf friends at 1 Wing Headquarters to get him safely to the children staying at Kingston General Hospital for the holiday season. Photo by Logan Cadue.

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