Well it’s that time of year again! As I write, the snow is falling, Thanksgiving is firmly behind us, and the Local 29 Firefighters of Spokane are heading out to share some Christmas Cheer!
Of course, I am talking about the Local 29 Spokane Firefighters Union’s Santa Sleigh. We are very lucky to have had a wonderful donation of an aging 1998 Chevy service truck (which was due for replacement) from Avista and with a lot of time and money invested on the part of the Local 29 members we have created a brand new Santa Sleigh! They have done a lot of work to get it ready in time for the season.
The weather between Thanksgiving and Christmas is always a mystery and now with the four wheel drive sleigh, Santa will be able to get out and about spreading the holiday spirit come freezing rain or snow. In our old sleigh (which we still maintain and use on occasion) we were limited by the two wheel drive under the snowy conditions of December many years.
On any given night, a group of Local 29 firefighters check out the sleigh and head out to see as many kids as possible within a given Spokane neighborhood. The music is blaring and candy canes are flying; almost as fast as the smiles! Most crews try and meet by 5:30pm or so and get on the road early enough to see the kiddos before they head off to dreamland.
For many kids, the firefighters realize, this is their only chance to see Santa. The malls may be too expensive for many parents or the time required to go may be more than they can offer. It is a very big deal, young or old, to see Santa! And while the teenagers may have learned the secret behind the curtain I can assure you the magic is still very much alive! Parents are overjoyed at a chance to shoot a photo with the kids with Santa! We attempt to stop (when and where safe) and hand out candy canes to every child we see. Many kids and parents may wave from the window at first but if we pause they will frequently grab a coat and head out to visit.
Again, right there in the street with Santa might be that kid’s only chance to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas. We try and take the time to listen, not making any promises of course, remind them to be good for mom and dad, and ask them to have mom and dad help them write a letter and mail it to Santa so he doesn’t forget their big wish on Christmas night! And since some kids catch on that “you aren’t the real Santa” we try to be straight with them. “Actually you are right! I am not the real Santa, I am an elf. Lots of Santa’s Elves make toys back at the North Pole and many others get out into the community and help Santa by finding out what all the good boys and girls want for Christmas. St. Nicholas is very busy at this time of year getting ready and he needs us elves to help him out!”
So, if you hear a little Christmas music blaring louder than your typical teen driver it just might be Santa Clause and his elves from your City of Spokane Firefighters Union! And don’t forget to be nice, because Santa’s driving around checking on his Naughty and Nice list and you don’t want a lump of coal on Christmas morning do you?
Patrick Moore, Local 29