As Christmas Eve draws nearer, the Jolly Ol’ Elf is putting the finishing touches on this year’s travels.
“The kids — big and small — have been pretty good since last year, so we’ve really got a lot of goodies to deliver,” Santa said recently during a hot cocoa break.
Blowing on his cup, he added, “I hope the sleigh will hold it all. I think it’s the most we’ve ever had.”
The 120-horsepower engine that serves as a backup to the reindeer is a new addition this year.
“It’s only a backup,” Santa said. “The reindeer have never been taxed this hard, but the number of kids asking for electronics, combined with the number of kids on the nice list this year, has us wanting to make sure we have all our bases covered.”
Earlier this year, he said, there was a massive transfer of 368,747 kids to the nice list, caused in part by kids studying hard, giving their allowances to other children in need, and helping their parents around the house. In Bladen County, he noted, 11 children were better about doing their chores, 24 youngsters shared with their siblings on a regular basis, and a whopping 63 were more truthful this year than last.
“In Bladen County alone, almost 200 kids made the transition this year,” Santa remarked with a smile. “That makes the county one of our top places as far as the percentage of kids on the nice list. In fact, if this trend continues, we can expect to hit 99 percent in a few years.”
When North Pole staff saw earlier this year the spike in numbers, they began preparing, Santa said. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen started working out to strengthen their muscles, and North Pole’s engineering department developed the new backup engine for the sleigh. Santa even tried to drop a few pounds himself to offset the added weight, but said his “love of cocoa and cookies” meant he wasn’t very successful. The sleigh — usually 50 feet long — was increased to 58 feet this year, and new landing gear to allow for vertical descents was installed.
“The elves have really put in a lot of overtime this year,” Santa commented.
St. Nick said there is still a lot to do in just one short week. The reindeer will have to be properly shod with noise silencers to accommodate for the increase in tin roofs, The List still has to be checked again, and the elves are making a final test of the all the toys they’ve made this year.
Most importantly, though, the sleigh has to be packed. While Santa wouldn’t reveal names, he did say at least one child in Bladenboro would be getting a Fingerling, and he has some Hatchimals for some kids in East Arcadia and more than one DropMix for some good children in Elizabethtown. He also added he has some Star Wars figures, a Barbie Dream Horse, Nerf Rival, Nintendo Switch, Smooshy Mushy, Movi, and a Frozen sleigh to deliver to Bladen County, though he wouldn’t say where.
“I can’t wait to visit Bladen County again,” Santa commented with a wink. “I’m ho-ho-hoping for some good cookies and milk.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing email@example.com.