Pediatric patients get holiday surprise with rappelling elves

Central Florida firefighters serve as Santa’s helpers for fifth annual holiday event

ORLANDO, Fla. – Without a chimney to climb down, Santa’s helpers had to find another way to bring Christmas cheer to pediatric patients at a Central Florida hospital.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus brought a team of rappelling elves to AdventHealth for Children Friday to help patients kick off the holiday season, hospital officials said.

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The fifth annual Elf Rappel had first responders from the Orlando Fire Department and Orange County Fire Rescue Department team up to spread joy.

First responders brought fire trucks, tall ladders and rappelling gear to help them get up close to the children through the windows of the hospital, officials said.

“We know that these children and families are going through a lot here,” said Greg Hubbard, captain of special operations for Orange County Fire Rescue. “Myself, and the group of elves behind me, we look forward to this every single year. We actually train for this year-round.”

In the video at the top of this story, you can see the huge grin on the patients’ and parents’ faces.

“Being able to put a smile on a kid’s face during the holiday season makes us recognize we have it a lot better than a lot of other people,” said Aaron Rhodes, district chief of special operations for Orlando Fire Department. “If you can take a little time out of your day to provide some warmth and play some games outside of a window for a child who will not be able to make it outside for the holidays, what other job is going to give me that opportunity?”

This meaningful, yearly event makes for great memories for all involved.