Tugs and Barges Benefit From Effort by Elves
Dusting themselves after the big 70th birthday party for the tanker Mary Whalen, the elves at Portside New York are preparing for the fifth annual Operation Christmas Cheer.
Neither rain, nor snow, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds: Nemodeer and a band of elves go around the harbor in a small boat distributing cookies and newspapers to tugs and barges on Christmas morning.
‘“Ahoy, we have cookies,’ is the standard greeting,” said Carolina Salguero, director of the nonprofit Portside, a waterfront advocacy group. “It’s a simple thing with a big effect. We show up wearing silly Christmas hats, make a ruckus and hand over a plate of cookies and newspapers,” she says.
Newspapers are actually hard for boat crews to come by. “There’s hardly anywhere left where boats can tie up near neighborhoods,” says Salguero, who also notes that the biggest benefit to Operation Christmas Cheer is for the crews to feel remembered during their weeks away from home.
Local bakeries have gotten in on the action and donate cookies, and neighbors volunteer to come by and wrap up the cookie plates in the galley of the Mary Whalen, which is also headquarters for Portside New York.
Operation Christmas Cheer is able to reach about 40 boats throughout the harbor in a five-hour period on Christmas day. They deliver the New York Times, the New York Post and the Daily News, for free. “Best home delivery deal in town,” says Salguero.
The public can support Operation Christmas Cheer by making a donation or volunteering to wrap cookies aboard the Mary Whalen on Christmas Eve. Donations are tax deductible and can be made by check or PayPal. Find out more at
Portside New York’s mission is to breathe new life into the relationship between landside communities and the maritime sector to the benefit of both.