Carolina History Project
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Helicopter Santa Claus


Circa 1948 Pictur-Tone 78rpm kiddie picture-disc record of "The First Noel."

Happy New Year everybody from Dirk Allman here at the Carolina History Project!  The Santa Claus Helicopter landing held at Skyland Family Restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina on Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009, from 3:00pm to 6:00pm was quite a success...and Christmas fun was had by one and all!  Here are a few of the photos from the festivities that transpired there.

(Photo courtesy of Angelo Pete Politis at

Yes, here is Santa Claus, a.k.a, Charlie Whitley, of "What's Up Grandpa?" local kid's show, normally seen on public access Cable 21.  However, his program will be on hiatus there for the present time, while new and wonderful humorous and educational programming is being worked out, as only "Grandpa" can put forth!  In the meantime, be sure to see some of Charlie's past shows on  Oh, and behind all of the happy children is the helicopter that brought Santa to Charlotte.  The gentleman standing in the back is none other than Mr. Jimmy Kakavitsas, the man who made all of this Christmas fun possible!

(Photo courtesy of Angelo Pete Politis at

Yes, over here we have the front entrance of Skyland Restaurant where everyday, 24-hours a day, many happy customers pass through.  Again, that's Jimmy Dimitrios Kakavitias on the right, who first came to Charlotte from Greece in 1967 when he was only 15 years old.  Skyland Restaurant is his life and practically his family.  His "Santa Claus Helicopter" Christmas party for children is one of many ways that he tries to give back to the community that has allowed him to make his prosperity.  To his left is Greek Orthodox minster, Priest Theodore, to lend "sacred sanction" to the gala occasion.  Priest Theodore (otherwise known fully as Reverend, Father & Presbytera Theodore S. Kyritisis) grew up in Greece during the tumultuous years of World War II, when German and British soldiers battled back and forth for supremacy of the Hellenic nation.  Then he lived through the post-war years when Greece suffered through civil war, as those sympathetic to communist tyranny tried to make the nation a Soviet satellite.  He saw much human carnage among his fellow Greeks.  Priest Theodore was orphaned at a very young age...and having lived through so much of his nation's destruction through those horrible years, he grew to be a very long-lived and spiritual man, sympathetic to human suffering....who will turn no one away who seeks his help and advice.  He is also involved in a prison ministry and has a Greek-language religious program on radio, wherein, he declares the ever-eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Also in this photo, it is important to note the gentleman standing in the background, by the window, wearing the blue coat.  His name is Paul Oats, a long-time Charlotte resident and Vietnam veteran who served in Indochina back during the mid-1960's.  He grew up in this neighborhood and was a patron of the old Skyland Restaurant, run by "Mr. Pete," that used to be near the corner of Seneca and South Blvd in the 1960's and 1970's.  Back then, it was a drive-in type restaurant, and Paul has many good memories of hanging out there as a teenager with his "South Meck" buddies back around 1962.  However, today Paul loves to come to the new Skyland that has been in operation since 1994.  I tell you this to illustrate just how long and how loyal local customers have been to Skyland Family Restaurant over the years.

(Photo courtesy of Angelo Pete Politis at

And well, would you look-a here!  Yes, yours truly, the webmaster and content provider of Carolina History Project, Dirk Allman, doing my usual fun stuff, with an old time Christmas display at the restaurant, complete with old record players (even a Victrola Number 4 from the year 1912--98 years ago) and my usual Christmas 78's and Lp's (vinyl records to you younger folks).  You even see an Elvis Christmas album in the background!  I'm playing a toy saxophone from the 1950's...that only has four notes on it.  About all I could play on it were some jazzy versions of "Taps" and "Revelry."  (Boy, wouldn't they really like me at Fort Bragg!)  And goodness, I've had that old dark blue, felt velour hat (homburg) for nearly two decades now.  My mother bought it off of a man's head at a local church attic sale.  I think it's from the disco '70's.  I get a lot of comments on it when I wear it in the winter months.

Again...HAPPY NEW YEARS FOLKS!  May we all do better in 2010!

Charlotte Observer photo from last year stating:  Santa Flies in to visit Skyland.  Santa Claus (played by Charlie Whitley) hugs children in line to greet him after landing from a helicopter at the Skyland Family Restaurant in Charlotte on Saturday (December 21st, 2008--last year).  The restaurant on South Boulevard held it's first Spectacular Christmas Children's Party with Santa Claus.

Skyland Family Restaurant's address and contact information can be found in their business card above.

Circa 1948 Pictur-Tone 78rpm picture-disc kiddie record of "Jingle Belles" spelled in a rather peculiar way.  It should be spelled "Jingle Bells" rather than "Belles."  Maybe this record was a French-Canadian issue.


Just a small disclaimer here:  many of the ephemeral artifacts found on this website are now, due to age, in the public domain.  Items and quotes of a more recent vintage, that are used here in part for newsworthy commentary and/or educational purposes, are covered by the Fair Use Act of the US Copyright Office.  Thank you.         

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