A High-Flying Christmas

Edward Rowe Snow peers out the window of a Cessna T-50—bearing the Flying Santa emblem—while flying past Boston Light in 1947.
The light went out long ago at Seamond Ponsart Roberts’ lighthouse home on Cuttyhunk Island, but memories of her childhood Christmases still sparkle. Like other children of lighthouse keepers sprinkled around remote Cape and Island outposts in the 1940s, she grew up without running water, electricity, or neighbors. She describes the keeper’s house at the west end of the island as “the end of the world,” a place where “visitors were very, very welcome.” Beginning every October, she scanned the sky for the red plane bearing the most welcome visitor of all: the Flying Santa, hero to lighthouse children from Maine to Long Island.

Throughout Roberts’ childhood, the Flying Santa was the writer Edward Rowe Snow. Dressed in a Santa suit, accompanied by his wife and daughter, Snow was a familiar and beloved sight circling the lighthouses, dropping Christmas packages to the children waiting below and bringing holiday cheer to these lonely locations.

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Sara Hunter writes from Centerville. Sara can be reached at

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