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Billings Flying Service's Santa to park sleigh for good

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Santa flies over Billings

The Blain family has a long-standing tradition of flying over Billings with holiday lights and Santa in tow on Christmas Eve. "Santa" usually flies for 30 to 40 minutes over Lockwood, Billings and Laurel. The tradition was started in 1981 by Gerhart Blain, father of Al and Gary, with help from community members. Stacey Robinson created the Santa Claus design on the light-up display that will be towed by the helicopter with a 100-foot cable.

Santa's annual flight over Billings is now a fond memory of yore. 

The Blain family announced on Monday that its annual flight of a lighted Santa and sleigh with reindeer will be retired this year.

Since the 1980s, the Blain family, which owns Billings Flying Service with a fleet of choppers and planes, has used a helicopter to tow a lighted St. Nick in his sleigh with a pair of reindeer in the dark sky above the Billings area on Christmas Eve.

It's been a couple years since Billings residents last saw the display. The practice, which  became a well-known Christmas tradition through the years, happened as weather permitted.

Last year, the flight was grounded. High winds during a storm last winter severely damaged the light display and grounded the annual flyover. 

This year, the Blain family announced to the Billings Christmas Lights web page that they were grounding Santa and his sleigh for good, retiring the display. 

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