Budget cuts halt Santa's helicopter visits to Newport Beach schools
The Newport Beach Police Department is halting what had been a city tradition: flying in Santa and Mrs. Claus on a police chopper for visits to local schools.
“It was a department budget issue,” said Sgt. Steve Burdette, a Newport Beach Police Department spokesman. Police officials worked to figure out ways to save the program, but in the end the money just wasn’t there, he said.
Several city officials said they were not clear on how much the Santa Fly-In program cost, but Burdette did say the jet fuel and overtime pay was too expensive, especially considering that helicopter hours were cut in half last summer. A call to the helicopter’s commander seeking a dollar amount of the program was not returned.
Harbor View Principal Charlene Metoyer sent a School Loop message to parents explaining the cancellation. “I just got word from the North Pole that Santa is swamped this year,” she wrote.
--Amy Senk, Times Community News
Photo: Times Community News file