MAGNOLIA — With so many good little boys and girls to see this Christmas, Santa Claus moved quickly through several local neighborhoods on the second of his three-night visit through the neighborhoods and roads of this small town.
At the end of Wednesday night’s goodwill tour dubbed as the “Santa Run,” everyone involved with the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Co.’s annual run stopped to pay tribute to the 11-year-old who was tragically absent from the route — Andromeda Brown and grandmother Peggy Klinger lost their lives a week ago when an inferno ripped through their home on Juanita Drive.
Fire personnel who responded to the 10:44 p.m. call were backagainseven days later to lay a wreath with Andi’s and “Mom-Mom’s” names inscribed; for seemingly the first time all night, the fire trucks stayed silent as a moment of silence was observed.
“Around this time of the year, for something like this to happen seemed doubly bad,” fire company member Ashley Hozinger said. “To me, having something to recognize their memories is kind of a morale booster.”
For most of the night that stretched on for two hours, a pair of five-vehicle line of firefighters and emergency responders spread their Christmas cheer through the eventual target goal of reaching every street in Magnolia, blaring their sirens, flashing lights and passing out candy canes along the way.
Standing in a yard was Carlene Peters, who said she hasn’t missed a Santa Run yet.
“The kids love it … it gets that Christmas spirit going,” Ms. Peters said. “I respect the fire company because they donate their own time to do this. It really is a nice event.”
At one point, a boy who couldn’t have been any older than 6 jumped up and down excitedly at a corner excitedly screaming “I saw him! I saw him!” as the ladder truck transporting Santa rounded a corner. Through the magic of Christmas, Santa was able to journey both east and west atop trucks as separate vehicle crews covered as much territory as possible.
One of the first stops was at the home of a needy family that’s fallen on hard times, and firefighters Earle Dempsey (president), Kevin Consalo, Buck Dougherty (second assistant chief) and Brandon Olenik dropped off a care package of goodies and gifts that even included treats for Abby the family dog.
Homeowner Maria Scotti seemed at first stunned by the gesture, and then struggled to hold in a well of emotions as she thanked the Company 55 members profusely.
“This was overwhelming; I wasn’t expecting this at all,” Ms. Scotti said as personnel exited her Barker’s Landing residence. “We had just a couple things under the tree since it’s been a rough year.
“There are really no words for this. I’m overwhelmed. I didn’t think people did this kind of thing for each other any more.”
Human kindness is alive and well in Magnolia, evidenced by the more than 30 folks set to take part in each night of the Santa Run, including fire company members and their families.
Just in case an emergency would break out — and there fortunately hasn’t been one in the previous four years — ambulances and lead fire trucks and fully prepared crews took part in both of the riding teams.
The only potential trouble came about halfway through the run when a call came over the radio — “We might have a candy cane issue,” which was answered by “We might need to run back and get some candy canes.”
Santa's Run concludes tonight from 6 to 8 with visits to Paris Villa, Peachtree Run (Millchop to Irish Hill), Jericho Road, The Village of Chestnut Ridge, The Reserve at Chestnut Ridge, The Meadows at Chestnut Ridge, Chestnut Ridge, Irish Hill, Robin Hill, Nascar Lane, Brookhaven Estates, South State Street (Firehouse to Locust Grove Road), Church Creek, Linkside townhomes and Apartments, Grandview Meadows, Brookdale Heights, Metz Drive, Hideaway Acres, Banning Road, Barett Farm, Country Field, Doe Run, Briarbush Road.
Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 741-8296 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@DSNAnderson.