When Christmas jingles carried through neighborhoods, red and white lights flashed and “ho ho ho’s” could be heard from far and wide, it was a sign that Santa had come to South Whidbey.
But when Santa visits our neck of the woods, he ditches Rudolph, Dancer and Prancer for South Whidbey Fire/EMS vehicles to haul his “sleigh” across town.
Santa and his pals at South Whidbey Fire/EMS toured east Freeland Monday evening and Clinton on Tuesday as part of the fire district’s efforts to spread holiday cheer across the South End. Santa’s week-long tour, via fire department vehicles that flash emergency lights and play Christmas songs on loudspeakers, is a long standing tradition that the district has put on for more than 20 years. And for the volunteers and elves who rode along, it’s something they’ve had marked on their calendars for a while.
“I had a Christmas chain counting down the days to ride on Santa’s sleigh,” Elementary School student and elf Jackson Simmons said.
Santa started his journey from Station 34 in Langley before making a pit stop at Maple Ridge Assisted Living to sing Christmas jingles, nab a handful of cookies left out by the Maple Ridge staff and pose for pictures with youngsters and elderly folks alike. After departing the retirement home, the sleigh, with a ho-ho-hoing Santa perched on top, made stops on streets such as Beachwood Drive and Watkins Road before making a last stop for the night in the Payless Foods parking lot.
Organizers from within the district declined reveal Santa’s identity in the name of upholding holiday spirit. Instead, Santa says his visit to the South End is to prepare for his Christmas run.
“I’m down here from the North Pole doing some pre-runs to make sure my engine is running well and to get Rudolf a buff on the nose,” Santa said.
There were seven little helpers who threw on their elf outfits to hand out educational gift bags on public safety to those who came to see Santa in the flesh. Most of the elves were children and family members of South Whidbey Fire/EMS staff and volunteer firefighters. For them, the exciting part was getting the chance to ride in a fire department vehicle, see their friends and wish South Whidbey a merry Christmas.
Although for some of Santa’s little helpers, the cookies may have been the highlight of the night.
“I liked everything about riding with Santa,” elf Zach Davison said. “I got to see friends and eat a lot of cookies and brownies.”