Santa dodges weather to parachute into the Rowan Airport

Skydiving Santa drops into the Rowan Airport to hear Christmas wishes from visiting children.
Skydiving Santa drops into the Rowan Airport to hear Christmas wishes from visiting children.

Martha Dunlap wanted her grandsons to see Santa this year, knowing they needed a positive and upbeat Christmas.

She called Rowan Airport Manager Thad Howell, making sure that she had the details right. She knew Santa was going to parachute into the airport, and wanted her grandsons to see it.


Javion and Davion Williams had missed the Salisbury Christmas parade, but they were excited and ready to meet Santa on Saturday morning.

Dunlap watched her twin grandsons as their anticipation for Santa’s arrival continued to build. Both boys hoped Santa would get to parachute despite the inclement weather.

“They just didn’t want him to get hurt,” said the boys’ father Larry Williams.

At 10 a.m., visitors to the airport heard the sound of a small plane above them, just below the cloud layer. The plane slowly crossed the airport area, then suddenly the red-suited jolly man jumped out of the plane.

Children and adults alike cheered when they first saw Santa exit the plane just south of the airport. In less than 2 minutes, he floated to the ground, waved to the crowd and jumped in a van for a ride to the large hangar where everyone eagerly awaited his arrival.

Javion and Davion waited in line with their dad, and very soon they saw Santa enter the hangar.

“The boys are usually shy, but not today,” Larry Williams said. “They are excited to meet Santa.”

The twin boys lost their mother and sister in a car accident on Jan. 18, and family members have been working hard to make this a special Christmas.

“Both sides of the family have been helping to bring the boys up, and when their grandmother mentioned that Santa was coming we just had to be here,” Larry Williams said.

When the boys finally got a turn in Santa’s lap, they told him they want a train and track, a remote control airplane and a scooter.

Both mentioned that they want a bike. Although the boys typically share toys, Javion was quick to point out they each want their own this Christmas.

Others also came to see the unusual sight of Santa parachuting.

“We hadn’t seen Santa so far this year, and our son, Raleigh, really likes planes,” Laura Shafer of Salisbury said. “None of us had seen Santa jump out of a plane, so we came out.”

Raleigh, 3, was excited to see Santa plunge from the plane.

“He really seemed to know what he was doing,” he said.

Avery Harrington and Aiddin Dewesse joined their parents, Amy and James Deweese, at the airport for the first time.

“This is amazing. Once Santa jumped, all I could hear were the kids screaming for Santa,” Amy said. “They have never seen anything like that. We will definitely be back next year.”

Friends Tasha Herioin of Salisbury and Andrea Mullis of China Grove brought their kids to see Santa.

“My son, Braden, asked Santa for a choo-choo and a broom,” Herion said, “He wanted the broom because he likes to clean.

“Our other son Jayden wouldn’t say anything, so I am not sure that Santa will know what he wants.”

Mullis said she always tries to do something different each year for Christmas.

“Pretty soon Santa will be coming to town, and we wanted to make sure the kids got a chance to see him,” she said.

When Santa got a few minutes to take a break, he had some interesting technical thoughts on the parachute jump.

“We were not sure that the weather would stay good for the jump,” he said. “In fact, the winds aloft were really bad and rain was in the area. We went way south of the airport and let those winds push me back toward to the landing area.

“I jumped from about 2,800 feet because of the very low cloud cover. I had a wonderful view of the crowd as I floated down.”

After a sip of hot Christmas tea, Santa was asked about the behavior of the kids who came to see him.

“The kids this year were even more enthusiastic than last year,” Santa said. “All of them said that they had been good all year. Just to be sure, I will have to check my list of naughty children when I get back to the North Pole.

“Bernard is my head elf, and he will have the list up to date. I hope the children know that they still have to be good all the way to Christmas.”

Howell said he was impressed to see so many people brave the weather to see Santa on Saturday.

“It was the best thing all year at the airport when Santa jumped out of that plane and I heard everyone cheering,” he said. “Thanks to all who brought the food donations for Rowan Helping Ministries. There were so many staff and volunteers that worked to make this event possible.”

Dunlap said she’s excited about any event that brings a smile to so many children, including her grandsons.

I just enjoy seeing them be so happy,” she said.

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