NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Inn Celebrates ‘Christmas in July’

A police officer dressed as Santa arrives at the Children's Inn with bags full of presents for the kids.
Santa Claus, a.k.a. Montgomery County Police Officer Bobby Ladany, greets children and families staying at the inn.

Photo:  Sonja Luecke

Police officer watches a young patient open presents
Montgomery County Police Officer Charles Wigle watches inn resident Melva open her Christmas in July gifts. Also pictured is Melva’s dad, Carlos.

Photo:  Sonja Luecke

Twin toddler girls play in the snow with their mom outside the Children's Inn.
Twins Julia and Isabella, 3, of Sweden, get their first chance to play in snow in summer—a perfect way to cool off during the heatwave—with their mom.

Photo:  Sonja Luecke

A young adult and her mom, smiling behind their masks, hold a pizza box, salad and cake.
Ren, a young adult staying at the inn, and her mom, get ready to enjoy pizza, salad and cake as part of the celebration.

Photo:  Sonja Luecke

On July 22, the Children’s Inn at NIH hosted Christmas in July. Santa’s motorcycle elves from the Montgomery County Police Department and the NIH Police showered children and young adults, their siblings, parents and caregivers with gifts.

“It was good, thousand times good!” Ujji, 8, from Mongolia said of the first live event held at the inn in months. To keep everyone safe, Santa and his elves wore masks and made sure to physically distance as much as possible.

After a brief stop at the Clinical Center to greet children and young people who are inpatients, Santa returned to the inn to welcome children and families to board buses decorated for the occasion. Escorted by flashing lights and blaring sirens, Santa and his elves guided their guests across the NIH campus, waving to staff they passed along the route.

Back at the inn, Santa and his elves presented gift bags to children, their siblings and family members. The presents, made possible by community members, included toys, insulated cups, Bluetooth speakers, snacks and blankets.

In addition to gifts, children and young adults enjoyed playing in machine-made snow in the July heat and eating a special pizza and salad dinner, followed by a cake to round out the event.

“We are very grateful to NIH and to the Montgomery County Police Department for playing motorcycle elves and bringing joy to our children time after time,” said Laura King, head of the inn’s volunteer and community outreach. “A special thanks to MCPD Officer Bobby Ladany, who has been our Santa for many, many years, and to the Women for the Inn, who donated meals and dessert. This is such a special, wonderful event for our children and families, especially during this difficult, uncertain time.”

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

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Staff Writer: Amber Snyder (link sends e-mail)