Santa appears on radio days before Christmas
Santa made an appearance on ham radios across the U.S. Saturday, and kids around the country could tune in and ask him questions.
It was organized by amateur radio operators, who invited both kids and those young at heart to talk to Santa at Buckley Baldwin VFW Post 2534 in Wisconsin Rapids.
"I thought this could be an opportunity where kids could actually talk to Santa without having face-to-face contact, which sometimes makes them very nervous," said Tom Heiser, the secretary of VFW Post 2534.
They're able to talk to Santa using a ham radio, an amateur radio that uses the internet. There are about 700,000 FCC-licensed operators in the U.S. It’s been around for more than a hundred years and is one way to communicate in emergency situations when other communication infrastructure fails. Events like this are good practice.
"We use it to help practice the passing of information on the air, formal information and informal information," said Myron Oestreich, the assistant emergency coordinator and public information officer for Wood County ARES/RACES.
This is the fourth year that Wood County's ARES/RACES has brought Santa to kids in Wisconsin Rapids. Part of their mission as amateur radio operators is service to their community, so they partner with the VFW for events.
Oestreich spread the message on social media, and a little girl in New Jersey was able to call in.
"What kind of cookie do you want, Santa?" she asked.
Kids who come to the VFW on Saturday would fill out a sheet giving some information to Santa, and then Oestreich paged Santa on the Ham Radio.
"You're on the nice list! You must have done something very nice this year,” said Santa.
"Depending on their age, usually you'll see the eyes perk up and start to bulge out a little bit, and then you get the surprised look when Santa actually talks back to them and knows their name," said Oestreich.
Even if you're only young at heart.
"Good afternoon, Santa," said Michael Krohn, a retired member of law enforcement who is also the emergency coordinator for ARES/RACES.
Santa is actually based pretty close to the North Pole. He’s a member of the local ham radio club who's currently in Alaska.
Making dreams young, and old, come true.
"I would ask for a new SUV for Christmas but that would be being greedy," he said.