Santa set to ride in with sirens wailing Christmas Eve
Okotoks: Santa has been riding the firetruck for a decade
By: Darlene Casten
| Posted: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2011 12:43 pm
Santa will be taking a break from delivering presents to make an escorted tour of Okotoks again this Christmas Eve.
The Okotoks fire department has made arrangements to once again parade Kris Kringle through the town for a couple hours before he takes off again with the reindeer to deliver presents to boys and girls around the world.
It has been a decade since the fire department first started the annual tradition of the Christmas Eve Santa parade.
It was about 10 years ago when an auxiliary RCMP member, Chris Large, got to chatting with his neighbour, Okotoks’ fire chief Paul Kaiser, about the idea of commandeering Santa for a ride around town in a fire truck.
Kaiser liked the idea and they started talking to their colleagues about making it a reality.
“Steve Bailie, another neighbour and fire fighter, jumped at the idea as did a couple of RCMP members,” recalled Large. “With no real plan we headed out after dark on Christmas Eve with one RCMP car and a fire truck with Santa on the back.”
That first year the parade was on the streets Okotoks residents were roused from their homes to the wail of the police car, which was followed by Santa’s ho, ho, ho’s and Christmas music blasting from a boom box.
“The reactions were incredible,” said Large. “The weather was good so people came out with their kids, people were phoning their friends, everyone waving and cheering.”
Mike Dykman, a captain with the Okotoks fire department, has since taken over organizing Santa’s spin through town and was there for the inaugural Santa tour.
“The first year they thought the sky was falling,” Dykman said. “There weren’t much sirens back then, so they’d come out with panic on their faces and they’d see Santa and they’d be smiling.”
It was those reactions that buoyed the firefighters, police and other volunteers to continue the tradition.
“You have to be there to feel it,” Dykman said. “It really feels like Christmas Eve when you do that.”
Santa only has a few hours in his extremely busy schedule and as the town continues to grow they have had to adjust the route.
“When we started we went down almost every street, but now we have to restrict it,” he said. “Now we try to hit every district.”