St. Nicks hit the streets in Lancaster

December 20, 2004|BOBBIE CURD

LANCASTER - The fire department was gearing up for a busy Sunday.

Three fire trucks were due to hit every street in Lancaster, handing out bags of fruit and candy to children and the elderly; a tradition that is said to have gone on at least since the 60's.

"Now, if there should happen to be a fire, make sure and tell Santa where you're going," Mr. Claus said while standing in the circle of firefighters, adding not to forget to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Santa Claus was none other than Chief Kenny Adams, one of three St. Nicks that were doing their best to ensure the kids of Lancaster got their holiday started off right.


A loud role call was issued from within the garage; "Engine one, engine two, engine three ... " with each man sounding off that he was on board.

Two other Santas were suited up and ready to roll, firefighter Donnie Barnes and Asst. Chief Louis Grimes.

"Well, they fit the suits and ..." Lt. Daniel Napier continued trying to pick his words carefully to explain why the three men were picked to be Santas.

Napier finally resolved that they were just the jolliest of the Lancaster Fire Department.

The Santas sat on top of the fire engines, ringing bells and waving to anyone who came to their doors after hearing the loud sirens.

Each truck had an organized route to follow, driving down dead end streets with the sirens and lights on, then exiting slowly so that the men on the back could jump off and deliver the bags to the children.

Most residents were suited up in coats, hats and boots. The temperature was a chilly 29 degrees, and the wind was not helping.

Some children ran out bundled in blankets and pajamas

However, some children heard the sirens and ran out immediately, bundled in blankets and pajamas. One man stood in his yard, wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt, shorts and socks while holding a child wrapped up on his hip.

Asst. Chief Richard Sebastian jumped out of the passenger seat and helped guide the driver, Elwood Scott, while turning the massive truck around in narrow courts. "You better watch backing up around those limbs. If we catch him in any more wires, Santa's going to turn into a Grinch," Sebastian said jokingly, referring to the low-hanging branches that dangled above the truck.

Santa had already had his hat pulled off during one turn-around by some wires that hung across the road.

The firefighters all kept smiles on their faces while riding on the engine in the bitter cold.

Brad Young, a firefighter since January, jumped into the truck to take a quick break.

"They don't even pay that much attention to the candy, they're too busy trying to see Santa and wave at him," Young said.

The trucks finished their routes in about three hours and it has been reported that the Santas all thawed out fine, and that the chief made it through without being tangled in any more wires.

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