This time of year, a hospital is not exactly the preferred choice to spend the holiday season.

Fully aware of that, Santa Claus donned his red and white suit and arrived at Blue Mountain Health System's Palmerton campus with gifts in tow.

The visit was once again sponsored by members of the Palmerton American Legion Post 269 and the United Veterans Organization of Palmerton.

Based on their reaction, the annual visit clearly caught the patients - who were most grateful for the kind gesture - by surprise.

Patient Joe Ferrara, of Kunkletown, appeared in awe of the visit.

"What a pleasant surprise," Ferrara said. "You can't ask for anything more."

As usual, each patient received a Christmas bag with candy and crackers, fruit, a Christmas ornament, a folded flag ornament, and a Christmas card.

In all, 28 bags were prepared, said Ed Moyer, commander of the Palmerton American Legion Post 269.

"It's always our pleasure to be here," Moyer said. "It always makes our Christmas better being here."

The legion is always in search of new members. It meets the fourth Tuesday of each month.

Those who would like to join may call (610) 826-7475, or (570) 325-9657.