Beginning Sunday, Santa will swap his sleigh for a fire truck and his reindeer and elves for Decatur firefighters as he embarks on a five-day tour to visit with the town’s youngsters before Christmas.
The fire department will drive Santa through the routes outlined in the accompanying graphic nightly from 5 to 9 until Thursday.
If it gets to be too late and a segment isn’t completed, the department will return to it, Decatur Fire Marshal Deroy Bennett added.
“It’s important for us to give back to the community that gives to us in a number of ways – not only in the form of a station and equipment but also city funding that is based on taxes,” Bennett said. “That’s why it’s free … We just feel like it’s our job to give back, and these are just some of the ways we can.”
Santa began his tour atop a fire truck in 2001. Bennett, who then worked in Lewisville, pitched the idea to the Decatur brigade, for which he then volunteered.
“It’s just grown from there,” the fire marshal said. “We did several variations as far as routes. But we always stuck to going to every street every year.”
It has become expected, with people starting to call a couple of weeks before all of the logistics are worked out wanting to know the routes and times.
“It’s just an awesome thing that people look for us,” Bennett said. “We love it. We get to see a lot of people and have a good time.”
Last year, the department handed out more than 1,100 candy canes – one to each child.
“We look forward to the next seven days and getting to see people in the community,” Bennett said. “It’s a time of year we look forward to.”