Santa Claus readies for his annual trip to Tangier Island. Photo: Tracey F. Johns

Special Delivery: Tangier Holly Run Helps Islanders by Air

Clear skies, light winds, and a brisk morning welcomed pilots, passengers, and planes from throughout Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to the 53rd annual Holly Run to Tangier Island, Va. (You can learn more about this annual tradition in our 2018 story here).

Volunteer pilots provide greenery, holiday presents, and donations to the people of this isolated island who regularly deal with flooding and high tides. Why greenery? Traditional holiday greens like holly don’t grow on Tangier.

This year’s run included 43 aircraft registrants, who arrived at the Bay Bridge Airport for a pilot’s breakfast at 0800 with aircraft staggering their takeoffs, following Santa’s lead in his Vans RV7A. Mrs. Claus usually arrives from the North Pole with Santa, but her COVID-19 booster shot was giving her some side effects.

Photographer Tracey F. Johns, from Easton, Md., traveled on behalf of Bay Bulletin in a Piper Cherokee 6 with commercial pilot Marshall Lauer, his wife Lisa, and their friend Vinnie Dadamo from Voorhees, N.J. CLick through her photos below documenting this unique tradition:

As Holly Run organizer Helen Woods relays from Tangier, “Rising seal level is continue to create hardship on the island for an aging population. Quite a few people we have worked with over the years to organize the Holly Run have passed on or moved off the island. The estimated population is about 400 people.”

The Holly Run is collecting donations for Tangier’s Mission Fund (providing ramps, walkways, roofs, and more to residents in need) and Health and Welfare Fund (providing groceries and heating oil), and an anonymous donor is matching all the money given. Donations can be mailed and made payable to:

Swain Memorial United Methodist Church
PO Box 199
Tangier, VA 23440

Tracey F. Johns