LIMA (Reuters) – Sometimes Santa doesn’t need a sled and reindeer.
In Peru Santa hopped on a fire engine and was lifted up in the truck’s cherry picker to deliver Christmas cheer and presents to children infected with COVID-19 who are isolating with their families in a high-rise compound known as the Village.
“Since these are COVID areas you cannot go in directly, but Santa and the fire brigade provided a solution,” said Juan Oriundo, director of the Pan American Village in Peruvian capital Lima.
“The solution involves using the cherry picker so they can get close to the windows and give the children a little present. That way they can feel the excitement of Christmas that they might not get at home on the 24th (of December).”
As Santa rode the cherry picker – the fire truck’s hydraulic crane with a railed platform to carry people – accompanied by a firefighter, he delivered gift-wrapped presents to children leaning out the windows, as health workers on the ground outside danced and cheered.
For Santa and the children it was love all around.
“The most important thing is the love you get,” said Santa Claus impersonator Paul Suarez. “Saying ‘I love you Santa’ is magical. Why? It may seem like it’s not important but it is, because I’m not a close relative, I’m not their mom or dad. What kid tells someone that’s not from their family that they love them?”
One COVID patient isolated with his family at the Village, which was originally built for the Pan American Games in Lima, said the whole concept of family has grown.
“We used to spend Christmas with our family when it was five or six (people) but the family has been growing. It’s the patients, the nurses, the doctors, the staff,” said the patient, Amador Alfaro.
(Reporting by Carlos Valdez and Gerardo Gomez in Peru; Writing by Leslie Adler; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)