Forty two years ago, the idea of having Santa fly into the Princeton Airport for the area children to watch was brought to life. Throughout the years, this has evolved into a wonderful annual event for local families and those less fortunate.

The tradition will continue this year on Sunday, December 24th, when the Nierenberg family owners of the airport, will open the hangar doors to children awaiting Santa’s arrival. Santa is planned to arrive at 11:00 A.M. Parents are advised to bring the children prior to then, as the Princeton Airport Flying Tigers will be serving cocoa and cookies, and local folk singer Pat McKinley, starting at 10:30, will be leading the audience in holiday songs during the wait for Santa.

If parents would like to have a gift waiting for their child, they should bring a wrapped gift with the child’s name on it in large print to the Princeton Airport lobby. Gifts should be no larger than 12” to accommodate Santa. If parents have more than one child participating, the gifts should be wrapped in the same paper and tied together to speed up the distribution. Also, to have their child participate, parents need to bring a gift for the less fortunate as well. This is the most important feature of this event.

These gifts must be new and unwrapped, and will be collected by the Mercer County Board of Social Services. Personal checks made out to the “FoodBank Network of Somerset County”, as well as canned or boxed food will also be collected at the airport. Donations from non-participants are kindly accepted as well.

The collection of the gifts will begin the day after Thanksgiving and will end on Saturday, December 17th in order to enable county workers to arrange the best matches for the needy. The gifts can be deposited in the “chimneys” in the lobby of the airport between 8:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M. Once Santa’s plane lands, he will head into the hangar, along with all the participants, to distribute each gift individually. In fairness to all, Santa will distribute the gifts in the order in which they are received at the airport. Children will also have the opportunity to take a picture on Santa’s lap. Usually, distribution is completed by 1:00 P.M. and Santa continues his journey. There is no charge for this event.

The Princeton Airport is located in Montgomery Township, 3.5 miles north of Princeton on Route 206. The full address is 41 Airpark Road, Princeton, N.J., 08540.