Twas the night before Christmas and along the Cape Fear, children were wondering just how Santa gets here
"Can he land without snow?
And do reindeer like sand?"
"If our chimney's too small or clogged, will it expand?"
"Will a shark eat him up if he falls in the sea?"
"Will police think he's stealing from under our tree?"
And kids out in Wrightsville know this of their town --
Santa won't get there if the bridge isn't down.
But rest easy, kids! I have answers for all!
The forecast looks good, with nary a squall.
Read on for more, but I'm thinking we're good --
Santa will surely make it to our 'hood.
But what if my house doesn't have a chimney?!
If you live in a house in Wilmington, chances are you do. There are 31,401 single-family and 867 multi-family homes in the city, according to John Fullerton, Wilmington's zoning administrator, and the majority of them are outfitted with chimneys.
"I'm taking 80 percent of that total," Fullerton said, "which gives us 25,814 chimneys."
But if you live in a house or apartment without one, don't worry -- Santa always seems to find a way in. Local locksmiths say they've never -- not once! -- had to open a door for the man in red.
"It doesn't happen, because he is magic," said Scott Cheatham, owner and locksmith at Island Lock And Key in Wilmington and Carolina Beach. "Santa has the keys to the kingdom."
But what if my chimney is all stopped up?!
Chimneys should be "inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposit and correct clearances," according to the National Fire Protection Association. Locally, chimney-sweeping businesses sometimes see an uptick in appointment requests around the holidays, though it's hard to say for sure whether that's due to concern about Santa's passage.
"The thing about being an adult is, maybe they wouldn't outright say that's what caused it," said Ron Segars Sr., owner of Ron's Fireside Shop in Wilmington. "A kid might point out that the chimney is dirty. I think that's what would spur it, but I don't think an adult would share that."
Clogged chimneys are pretty nasty -- lined with "a gooey, black, shiny, tarry substance," Segars said -- and in most cases it probably wouldn't be possible to dislodge the gunk with a boot. But Santa will get in there somehow -- after 40 years in the chimney business, Segars has never had to repair a Claus-shattered chimney or rescue Santa from a clogged one.
"Not once," he said.
But what if the airport doesn't know he's coming and thinks he's a rogue plane?!
Santa gets permission before he flies the coastal skies, according to Jon Rosborough, director of Wilmington International Airport.
"He just comes by and gets clearance, because he has to fly through our airspace," Rosborough said. "Everyone that does must have permission."
He doesn't always visit at the same time, Rosborough said, but the air-traffic controllers are trained to note the difference between a sleigh and an airplane on their radar.
"He tries to come at approximately the same time, but he could get held up depending on what he's dropping off at different places around the world," Rosborough said. "We have very highly skilled air-traffic controllers that can differentiate between the real thing and not."
But what if the police see him and think he's robbing my house?!
Technically, Santa's big night is all about breaking and entering, but local law enforcement grant him -- and only him -- a pass.
"He's good to go," said Sgt. J.J. Brewer with the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office. "We have an understanding."
But can reindeer even survive in North Carolina?!
Technically, reindeer aren't allowed within state lines, as the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has a firm statewide ban on the importation of non-native animals. But Santa's reindeer are a special case, according to Geoff Cantrell, a spokesman for the agency.
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