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Santa brings holiday cheer to Arnold party

Santa whispers to a young girl during the Christmas party Dec. 2 at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Santa whispers to a young girl during the Christmas party Dec. 2 at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Santa Claus waves hello after an amphibious landing at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., Lakeside Club. Santa was on hand to help deliver presents for nearly 700 children at the Arnold AFB Christmas party Dec. 2. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Santa Claus waves hello after an amphibious landing at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., Lakeside Club. Santa was on hand to help deliver presents for nearly 700 children at the Arnold AFB Christmas party Dec. 2. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Santa Claus greets well-wishers lining the shore of the base lake at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., Dec. 2 after arriving on a small amphibious aircraft.  Santa was there for the annual holiday Christmas party at Arnold's Lakeside Club.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Santa Claus greets well-wishers lining the shore of the base lake at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., Dec. 2 after arriving on a small amphibious aircraft. Santa was there for the annual holiday Christmas party at Arnold's Lakeside Club. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Santa greets kids attending the annual holiday Christmas party Dec. 2 at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Santa greets kids attending the annual holiday Christmas party Dec. 2 at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at the Lakeside Club by sleigh after flying in to Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., Dec. 2 for the annual holiday Christmas party. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at the Lakeside Club by sleigh after flying in to Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., Dec. 2 for the annual holiday Christmas party. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Olivia Wilson, 3, plants a kiss on "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" during the Christmas party Dec. 2 at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Olivia Wilson, 3, plants a kiss on "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" during the Christmas party Dec. 2 at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Six-month-old Xavier Kinslow looks up in amazement at Santa Claus during the Christmas party Dec. 2 at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Six-month-old Xavier Kinslow looks up in amazement at Santa Claus during the Christmas party Dec. 2 at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

"Buddy the Elf," portrayed by Capt. Clay Couitt, passes out presents to each one of the children attending the Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., Christmas party Dec. 2. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

"Buddy the Elf," portrayed by Capt. Clay Couitt, passes out presents to each one of the children attending the Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., Christmas party Dec. 2. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Santa Claus stands with Dr. William Freeman, a retired Air Force flight surgeon and F-4 Phantom II pilot, in front of the doctor's amphibian Cessna aircraft.  Dr. Freeman flew Santa to Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., Dec. 2 for a Christmas party on the base.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Santa Claus stands with Dr. William Freeman, a retired Air Force flight surgeon and F-4 Phantom II pilot, in front of the doctor's amphibian Cessna aircraft. Dr. Freeman flew Santa to Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., Dec. 2 for a Christmas party on the base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. (AFPN) -- Santa took a break from making his list and checking it twice to attend a children's Christmas party Dec. 2 at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn.

Instead of arriving by the power of nine reindeer, Santa made his grand entrance in a 150-horsepower specially-outfitted 1967 Cessna float plane. More than 500 party attendees crowded the shoreline to cheer his arrival at the Arnold Lakeside Club.

"It was great to see him out here today," said 9-year-old Caleb McAffe. "Seeing Santa makes it feel like Christmas."

In addition to Santa, the party offered face painting, bouncy castles, free food and refreshments and a petting zoo.  Also, every child left the party with a present.

Tom Fahrer, the chief of services here, said that the party would not have been possible without teamwork and hard work from a variety of people.

"It's an incredible challenge hosting a party like this," he said. "The holiday season brings families to the forefront. We want to send every child home with a present and hopefully a full tummy."

The base has fewer than 80 active-duty servicemembers and 200 Department of Defense civilians assigned. Instead of seeing this as a challenge, Mr. Fahrer said that it gives him an opportunity to get to know his customers better.

"We have been known as the Air Force's best kept secret," he said. "We really listen to our customer feedback and make the effort to offer our people the best programs possible."

Kelli Smith, who is a civilian at the military personnel office, said that she was impressed by the party. She said her 2-year-old got a kick out of seeing Santa.

"I think it is pretty fun and neat that they do this party," she said. "It is really a great family atmosphere today and I'm glad I came."

Abby Johnson attended the party as well. The 11-year-old said that her favorite part of the holidays is spending time with her family and exchanging gifts. She said that the party was really helping her get into the holiday spirit.

"This has been really neat," she said. "I think it is cool that they had this big party.  I had a lot of fun."

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