- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Local police and fire officials are getting in the Christmas spirit by participating in several holiday events throughout the county.
The Huntingtown Volunteer Fire Department members will be continuing a tradition started more than 20 years ago by making “Santa runs” to different neighborhoods in the town, said Huntingtown VFD Chief John Riffe.
From Saturday, Dec. 8, through Tuesday, Dec. 11, department members will escort Santa Claus, with fire engines and ambulances, from the firehouse to all neighborhood developments in Huntingtown, Riffe said.
“[Santa] is in the front of the procession and all the trucks are behind him,” Riffe said. “… With Santa Claus is Mrs. Claus, and they hand out bags full of goodies to the children. The community loves it.”
Riffe said signs are posted in each development of exact dates and times of when Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive.
Members of the North Beach Volunteer Fire Department also make “Santa runs” to different communities or participate in parades upon request, said North Beach VFD Chief Donald Gibson, as they have been doing for at least 10 years.
The first parade in which the department will escort Santa Claus this holiday season, Gibson said, is the Pat Carpenter Holiday Parade, which begins at noon Saturday, Dec. 1, and runs along Bay Avenue to 7th Street. On Saturday, Dec. 15, the department will lead Santa through the Breezy Point community at 6 p.m., and on Sunday, Dec. 16, Santa will be escorted through the San Francisco on the Bay community at 2 p.m. Gibson said the department “will entertain all requests” from other communities as long as they do not have anything else booked.
Gibson said the North Beach VFD Auxiliary will host Santa on Friday, Dec. 14, at the fire department so the children can get their picture taken with Santa “and leave with a stocking filled full of goodies.” The auxiliary started the tradition of hosting Santa at the department more than 35 years ago, Gibson said.
Christmas trees will also be on sale at the department for $40 through Christmas, Gibson said.
Solomons Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jim Taylor said members are participating in several holiday events throughout December, including multiple “Santa runs,” town tree lightings and Christmas breakfasts.
“It shows community support … and provides a connection between us and our community, not just in the worst of times but also in the best of times,” Taylor said of why the department participates in so many events. “We’re giving back to the community that supports us.”
Fred Sheckels, a department member who coordinated all of the events for the Solomons VFD, said the first event the department is participating in is on Dec. 1, when members will “deliver Santa” during the official tree lighting ceremony in Lusby at about 5:30 p.m.
On Dec. 8, members of the community will have an opportunity to have breakfast with Santa at the department and view the department’s different fire engines, Sheckels said.
Starting Dec. 13, the department will participate in several different “Santa runs.” The first run will take place that evening in the Drum Point subdivision, Sheckels said. Then, from Dec. 14 through 16, Santa will be driven through Chesapeake Ranch Estates. Sheckels said because CRE is “so big, we had to break it up into three different evenings.”
The department will drive Santa through the Cove Point area Dec. 17; through the Little Cove Point area Dec. 18; and through the Asbury and Solomons areas Dec. 19 and 20, Sheckels said. Each run will take place from about 6 to 9 p.m., he said, and Santa will toss candy canes to children.
In previous years, the department accepted requests to stop at different individual homes in the communities during the runs, but this year, Santa will just be driven through on the fire engines, Sheckels said.
“That way we can cover more area and Santa can see more kids before his big night on [Dec.] 24,” he said.
In a combined effort, Calvert County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Maryland State Police Prince Frederick Barrack troopers are participating in the annual Shop with a Cop program Saturday, Dec. 8.
Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans (R) said Shop with a Cop has been an annual event for about six or seven years. The program, which is sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police and the Calvert County Optimist Clubs, joins underprivileged children with local police officers and provides the children with money to shop for Christmas presents for their families and themselves.
Lt. Randy Stephens, MSP Prince Frederick Barrack commander, said there were about 67 children in need of assistance this holiday season participating in the program.
Stephens said deputies and troopers pick the children up at their homes and take them to Outback Steakhouse where they will have breakfast. Then, the children will be taken to Walmart in Prince Frederick, where they are given a $150 gift certificate to buy gifts before visiting the St. Leonard Volunteer Fire Department. Stephens said there, the children wrap their new gifts and meet Santa Claus.
“It gives the citizens and the kids a better understanding that law enforcement aren’t the bad guys,” Stephens said of Shop with a Cop. “They’re out here to help and … it’s good for public relations.”
The program also shows county residents law enforcement officers “go above and beyond on our own time” to help out, Evans said.
“We know that we have needy citizens, or underprivileged kids … that need help,” he said. “It’s a really good feeling to do this and see the smiles on the kids’ faces. It’s pretty special.”
The sheriff’s office also is a location where people can drop off toys for the Marine Toys for Tots foundation. A donation box was set up at the sheriff’s office Nov. 2, where it will remain until Dec. 13.
“The deputies and other employees of the sheriff’s office like giving,” Evans said, “and also, everybody in the public … can drop [toys] off there and knows it’ll be secure and that it will go to the right place.”