HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - First responders in Hollywood took on a new task this weekend, giving Santa Claus a lift — literally — to help bring smiles to some special hospital patients.

St. Nick made a pit stop ahead of Christmas at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital on Saturday.

Santa’s reindeer did not accompany him on this visit, however. Instead, Hollywood Fire Rescue crews helped him get to the hospital, with a little help of their fire engine and ladder, to bring a little holiday spirit.

“The kids light up, even if they don’t believe,” said Audrey Bauer, Child Life Assistant at the hospital. “We had some kids on there who were not believers, but they are today.”

Children lined the hospital windows and sidewalks with their Christmas lists in hand, eager to say hello to Jolly Old St. Nick.

“It kind of brings this joy. It gets them out of bed. It gets them to walk about,” said Bauer.

In addition to kicking the holidays into high gear at the hospital, Santa’s visit kicks off their toy drive, a longstanding annual tradition.

“It gets bigger and bigger. Everybody wants to participate,” said Hollywood Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Chris Delcampo. “We like to give back to the community when we can, and this is an opportunity where we can give back to the most needy of our community.”

“It just makes my heart full, because I do know how much these kids are having to deal with on a daily basis,” said Bauer.

The surprise visit gave the young patients a chance to escape the hospital walls and enjoy Christmas as a child.

“To smile and be happy and getting to share this with their families is a joy for me,” said Bauer.

Copyright 2023 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox