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Spirits fly high as Santa arrives in Hays




Youngsters didn't have long to wait for Santa's arrival Sunday at Hays Regional Airport.

With balmy temperatures and no snow in sight, Santa arrived by plane at 4 p.m.

This is the third year Santa has made an appearance at the airport's open house.

Chad Heslet brought daughters Haylea, 6, and Madison, 3, to the airport while mom Darcy was at work. They came last year, too.

"Two planes came in," Haylea said of Santa's arrival.

Both girls knew just what to ask for when their turn came -- a cuddles cat for Haylea and a cuddles monkey for Madison.

Ashlyn Bochy, 2, asked Santa for a cake.

"She's always busy in her (toy) kitchen," Shawna Bochy said of her daughter.

Santa talked to each child trying to put them at ease.

He told Brevyn Barnes, 4, they shared an interest in trains because Brevyn was wearing a shirt with a train picture.

Brevyn asked for a race track and super-hero action figure.

This was the second time Jenifer Riat has brought sons Caden, 11 and Carsen, 7, to the open house. Her husband, Steve, is a member of the Fly Hays committee that organizes the event.

"The boys like to watch the planes land," Riat said.

Carsen's favorite part was "Santa landing and telling him what I wanted."

For Caden it's the cookies.

John Braun, Hays assistant director of public works and a member of the Fly Hays committee, was one of those serving cookies and beverages.

The committee decided to keep the event low-key this year, so the terminal didn't get so congested, he said.

In the past, the event was Saturday, and Santa arrived about 5 p.m. midway during the open house.

The arrival time was different because of flight schedule changes, airport manager Robert Johnson said.

The drawing winner of a free round trip ticket to Denver also wasn't required to be present, so many families left after their children shared their wish lists with Santa.

With passengers waiting to board, "we can't have too many people here," Johnson said.