It is well known that Santa Claus uses a sled, but in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, the jolly old elf got used to traveling by helicopter.
Except this holiday season. Santa, like nearly everyone else, is facing budget cuts.
For years, the Newport Beach and Costa Mesa Police departments took on the cost of the annual arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus, said Tim Starn, commander of the AirBorne Law Enforcement Services (ABLE), which serves Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, among other Orange County cities.
For the past 40 years, the Clauses landed at many of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District's elementary schools in the second week of December, greeted the students and handed out candy.
"It goes hand in hand with our DARE program," said Sgt. Steve Burdette, the public information officer for the Newport Beach Police Department. "It's independent of DARE, but it was something we did on the school sites, and we've been doing it for years. Unfortunately, with budget issues and the economy, we just couldn't do it this year."