HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A New Jersey hospital is well aware that Christmas is a half a year away, but that didn’t stop them from inviting a special someone to their pediatric center Wednesday to spread some holiday cheer.
At the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center, Santa said “ho ho ho,” in July.
The staff transformed one of their conference rooms into the North Pole, for their ninth annual “Christmas in July” celebration.
“This makes a huge impact on all the kids in the hospital. A lot of them are stuck in their rooms,” said child life specialist Kim Mason.
It brought a smile to all their pediatric patients, like 4-year-old Luke Shay of Sayville, Long Island, who’s here recovering from a successful brain surgery.
“This is such a nice set up with the kids, really brighten his day and made the experience that much better,” said Sayville, Long Island (mother?) resident Meghan Shay.
The same went for Zoe Ditrani who is on her 8th week of chemotherapy.
“Gives her something to be happy with in the middle of all of this,” said Hillsdale, New Jersey resident Robin Ditrani.
Leart Dervishaj, 6, is another child having a difficult time.
The boy’s family was scammed on Facebook last month when they were trying to buy him a dog.
He eventually got his dream pet, but still has a long road ahead of him. His mom says this atmosphere helps.
“Takes mind off of the medical part of it, not so much, medication and doctors,” said Little Ferry resident Rezarta Osmani.
Santa couldn’t get the toys here alone.
It was police officers from all over New Jersey that delivered the hundreds of toys.
Organized by the New Jersey Honor Legion, they turned their cars into sleds for the day.
“This is one of the things we look forward to every year. One of the first things we do is plan our calendar and pick out a day, and we start pushing it back in January,” said New Jersey Honor Legion president Michael Manzo.
July 25 is the new December 25, at least at this hospital.