As the coronavirus pandemic drags on into a second holiday season, some local Santa’s helpers say kids will still have the chance to tell Old St. Nick what they want for Christmas from a safe distance.
After devising a plan last year to connect Santa Claus with children via amateur radio, the Longmont Amateur Radio (Longmont, Colorado) is once again booking airtime for Kris Kringle. Kids can talk with Santa from 5-7 p.m. Sunday and 6-7 p.m. Monday through December 3.
chuck pochpresident of the radio club, said that last year the club was able to connect 34 children with Santa Claus, including one from Ohio and one from Canada.
With opportunities to visit Santa last year dwindling due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the club still wanted to give children the chance to take part in the tradition safely. Poch, of Firestone, said he wants to extend that opportunity this year.
Chuck Poch poses for a portrait near his ham radio set up at his Firestone home on Monday. The Longmont Amateur Radio Club will bring Santa Claus on the air to talk with the kids about what they want for Christmas after finding success last year. (Matthew Jonas/staff photographer)
“I think I hope it will give the kids some more courage to know that Santa Claus is out there,” Poch said. “You might not be able to see him in person and sit on his lap, but get on the air and talk to him and you’ll at least know he’s there.”
Steve Haverstick of Longmont, the radio club’s publicity committee, said he knew how much talking to Santa Claus on air meant to children last year when many holiday traditions were scrapped due to the pandemic.
“That’s what started all this Santa on the airwaves,” Haverstick said. “It was like expecting, ‘With covid, kids can’t go talk to Santa Claus.’ I think it meant a lot especially talking to Santa Claus All the amateurs in the background tried to train the kids to get good communication.
Santa Claus (John Chilson), of course, has agreed to help the club in its mission. Santa’s call sign will be N0P.
Poch said he thinks talking with Santa Claus on the air has helped spark some interest in young people about how amateur radio works, though he still hopes for more.
Poch added that the knowledge of technology and engineering that goes into the operation of amateur radio can be used for more than just a hobby, including helping to convey important information in emergency situations. when internet and cell towers are not working. The 163-member Longmont Club continues to work with the Longmont Office of Emergency Management to teach them how amateur radio works and how to obtain a license from the Federal Communications Commission.
“Amateur radio is the original social distancing,” Poch said. “He is over 100 years old. It’s long before Facebook or other things happened. There’s a lot of history behind it and it’s great fun. I think it is important to keep this history. Anyone can become an amateur radio operator, just pass the test and get a license.
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