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Operation North Pole Fills Holidays With Joy

OPNP

Operation North Pole Fills Holidays With Joy

By DIANE TURNER-HURNS
Journal & Topics Reporter

Magic took center stage in Rosemont and Des Plaines last Saturday during the annual Operation North Pole aimed at bringing holiday joy to ill children and their families.

Operation North Pole (ONP) is a Des Plaines-based charity that works with hospitals to identify children battling life-threatening illnesses. Each year the group works with Rosemont officials along with local police and fire departments and hundreds of volunteers to provide a day of fun for the children and their families.

There were many highlights to Saturday’s day of magic, which included a train trip to the “North Pole” that boarded at the downtown Des Plaines depot.

Seventy-three families including close to 200 children participated in the events. The day began with a holiday breakfast at the Donald E. Stephens (DES) Convention Center in Rosemont. Then around 10:30 a.m., the group hopped on buses and was escorted by Rosemont and Des Plaines “North Pole” police cars to the train station.

There, they boarded the specially wrapped ONP North Pole train cars where they began their journey north.

This year's theme was "pajamas,” ONP volunteer Crissy Hoffman told the Journal while setting up the DES holiday ballroom ahead of Saturday's event.

The families made the return trip to Rosemont via the special buses and police escort and entered the wonderland ballroom filled with more than 150 specially decorated trees; therapy ponies (yes, real ponies); the “pink room” with a dance floor; the superhero area; a model train area; an indoor hockey rink where kids could play; Santa’s corner complete with a fireplace; and of course, "Candy Land."

“The first year we did this with ONP, 1600 pounds of candy was donated. This year we have 6500 lbs. of donated candy,” volunteer Paul Boesch, of Elk Grove Village, said. “Beginning in September we put the call out on social media. Each year the response is fabulous.
Added Hoffman: “The whole event really brings out the kid in you."

 
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