ABOUT PHOTO: PRLA operators and friends line-up the limos for the annual Santa journey to the Children’s hospital. Santa Claus (Philip Jagiela) and his wife, Linda Jagiela, both of Aries Transportation, are at center.
SUMMARY: The annual gift giveaway and Santa visit by Philadelphia operators has become one of the most beloved and heartwarming charity events in the chauffeured transportation industry.
PHILADELPHIA — Santa Claus came a little early and with quite a luxury vehicle entourage this year to the children at ST. CHRISTOPHER’S HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN.
On Monday, Dec. 13, a parade of 12 stretch limousines escorted Santa Claus from the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s Swanson Street facility through the downtown streets of Philadelphia, around City Hall, and onward north to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.
PHILADELPHIA REGIONAL LIMOUSINE ASSOCIATION (PRLA) members filled their limousines with toys for Santa to distribute to the children in residence at the hospital. This is the eighth year that the association has participated in this worthy event. The Philadelphia Parking Authority provided police escorts for the procession, temporarily blocking intersections as the limousines paraded through the city amid sirens and flashing lights.
Santa gave up the reindeer this year to be transported in the back of a Lincoln pick-up truck, which led the procession. Along the route, Santa waved to the surprised residents of Philadelphia who wondered just who was inside all of the limousines. Santa also tossed toys to children who were walking with their parents on this blustery morning.
Once at the hospital, Santa visited all of the wards, giving each child a toy and taking photos. His message and wish for them was to “just get better.” One young man told Santa that he would get his wish as he was going home today and gave him a high-five.
Santa, aka PRLA President Philip Jagiela, spent the entire morning at the hospital. Extra bags of toys were left for the hospital staff to use throughout the year and to be given to families in need.
“One of our part time chauffeurs works for a trucking company, Ward Trucking,” Jagiela said. “They collected the toys in their offices and delivered bags full over the weekend. Our company, Aries Transportation, participated in the Fourth of July parade in our town collecting toys from the residents. We had tremendous success. This event though is about the kids who may be spending the holidays in the hospital. Seeing their smiles makes all of the difference in the world.”
Charlie Manno of Carey Limousine participated for the first time this year. “I told Carl Schmidt in my office that he needs to come next year. This was incredible,” Manno said.
Wynn Thomas of Cristal Lauren Limousine said, “I am truly blessed to have participated in this event. I realize just how lucky I am.”
Chris Zubey of Private Coach has participated for the past two years. Last year, he brought his 12-year-old son, Cameron, to the event. Cameron played hooky from school to assist with the parade and sort the toys. He wrote an essay for school about the event. “I got an A,” said Cameron, who was one of the first to arrive at the Parking Authority Parking lot for this year’s procession.
“The hospital has already selected the date for us to come next year. It’s Thursday, Dec. 15,” Jagiela said. “They make us feel welcome and happy that we are involved with them.”
— Reported by Linda Jagiela of Aries Transportation, Southampton, Penn.