With a last name like Rudolph, it seems fitting that Minnesota Vikings Tight End Kyle Rudolph would arrange a special "flight" to the North Pole for a handful of University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital patients and their families.
The Dec. 17 event, "Rudy's Red Eye Express," gives kids a chance to meet Santa Claus and his entourage and celebrate the holidays outside of the hospital. This is the third year the Rudolph family has sponsored the unique trip. As part of the experience, families boarded a plane at the St. Paul Downtown Airport. Santa's elves, aboard the flight, helped navigate to the North Pole. After touching down, the visitors entered an enchanting tunnel and emerged on the other side in Santa's festive workshop.
The event was made possible thanks to the generous efforts of many donors, including the Rudolphs, Best Jets International, Maven Events, Northwestern Mutual, and others.
"It's awesome for us to have the opportunity to take all these patients and their families up to the North Pole," Kyle told Fox 9 News. "It's magical. The expressions on [kids'] faces, the excitement...they really light up once we get in and get to see everything."
On Dec. 17, roughly 50 patients and family members boarded a special flight at the St. Paul Downtown Airport.
The flight took them to Santa's workshop at the North Pole, where they got to meet the Big Man and Mrs. Claus...
...have snowball fights and dance parties with Santa's elves...
...take "elfies" on Santa's sleigh, meet his reindeer...
...and hang out with the other "Big Man" of the evening: Minnesota Vikings player Kyle Rudolph.
Visit our Facebook page for more pictures from Rudy's Red Eye Express!