SPOKANE, Wash. — "Ready to go? Spokane, here we come!" Bernie the Chief Elf declared from aboard the school bus bound for Spokane's Salvation Army.
Every holiday season elves descend upon the city of Spokane. And when they arrive, they make magic.
"Santa has launched us down to Spokane and we are on our way to the shelter to pick up 64 kids that he has hand selected out of all the kids in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene to come visit us at the North Pole." Bernie explained.
Excited kids board the bus, guided by elves. They sing Jingle Bells on the way to the airport, where they are greeted by more elves. About 250 elves have spent the whole year planning this very special trip.
"When they first come in they're a little bit hesitant", said SuziBelle elf. "But by the end of the night, they're bright, starry eyed, they've had a good day."
All airport check-ins should be this fun. Elf travel involves a lot of clapping, singing and dancing. After kids, and elves, manage to make even the TSA check warm and fuzzy, it's on to the gate where everyone gets a new jacket, and a backpack stuffed with goodies.
Then... the big guy arrives. The 737 that will transport these kids to the North Pole. One boy, Gabe, waves at the window and gets a wave from the flight crew. This is Alaska Airlines copilot Mike Barrett's favorite sight, "Kids, against the window. One, in particular, smashed against the window, reminded me of myself when I was his age. Pointing and waving and very very excited to be on an airplane ride."
Kids and elves board the jet, and settle in. And flight attendants do not pass out peanuts. Instead, it's "magic wands for everyone!"
Flight 1225 to the North Pole takes off on time. And after about 20 minutes, with the help of those magic wands, the jet touches down.
And this is the moment when doubt vanishes, and 64 kids believe.
Chief Elf Bernie unlocks the gates with a shout: "Welcome to the North Pole!"
Then, Santa's arrival seals the deal.
Unbelievably, this party's just getting started. At the North Pole there's everything from reindeer games, to sundaes chased with sugar cookies.
And each kid gets to find their name on the Nice List....and chat with Santa.
They also each get a present. When Gabe got his, a much wanted Nintendo DS, he kinda forgot about the rest of the North Pole.
Around him music played, and snowballs flew, and we had to wonder. Do elves ever get tired?
"Never! Have you ever lived on cookies and cocoa? You can't get tired! And if you get tired there's peppermint sticks! And if you get tired of peppermint sticks there's candy canes. There's endless energy for us!" Declared Chief Elf Bernie.
As long the sugar doesn't run out, and as long as people believe, these elves will keep using their special powers for the children of Spokane. Bernie says it's what elves do.
"It's all magic. The North Pole is magic. The spirit of Christmas is Magic. And the joy of children is magic."
To find out more about the Spokane Fantasy Flight, go to nwnorthpole.com. KING 5's Evening celebrates the Northwest. Watch it weeknights at 7:30 or streaming live on KING5.com. Connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Email.