Dec. 12 will be a busy day for firefighters in and around Sooke, as they set off on the Sooke Santa Run to spread holiday cheer throughout the community.
Four firetrucks with holiday music and shining with Christmas lights will make their way through Sooke – but they’ll only be collecting monetary donations instead of non-perishables.
In years gone by, the Sea Cadets helped organize food donations at the fire hall, and the families of firefighters would help decorate the firetrucks before their annual send-off into the neighbourhood. This year, only firefighters from Sooke, Otter Point, East Sooke and Shirley will take part due to provincial health orders.
“We always hear kids asking about when the Santa Run will happen,” said firefighter Kyle Sutherland. “The community has grown to love and expect this every year, and we’re going to do whatever we can to make it happen. The very least, a wave out of a window.”
A decorating team will get to work on the trucks just before noon on Dec. 12. Each truck takes about 90 minutes to get prepared with the help of four or five people.
After heading out around dusk, the crews will get most of the trucks back in the station by about 10 p.m., and then firefighters take all the decorations down on the same day. Since firefighters aren’t collecting any non-perishables this year, Sutherland thinks it could make the run slightly faster than years before.
Luckily, one thing will be a constant this year – the most junior members of the fire department will still be designated as Santas.
“When you place a 21-year-old Santa on the firetruck, it’s not the most accurate version of Santa you might think about,” chuckled Sutherland. “But it’s our way of welcoming them to the fire department.”
In years to come, he hopes that they can bring some realistic Santas to join the Santa Run.
The routes that the four firetrucks take haven’t changed drastically in the past 27 years that they’ve held the event, and the weather has never stopped them from bringing a piece of Christmas to Sooke resident’s doorsteps. There won’t be any refreshments of hot chocolate and cookies for the firefighters to enjoy as each truck completes a 10 to 13-kilometre trek.
The Sooke Santa Run is led by local firefighters who volunteer their time for both the Santa Run and the Fill-A-Truck campaign, which began on Nov. 18.
The drive-by event is subject to cancellation if the provincial public health orders change in the coming days.
Those who are interested in donating can go online at https://ca.gofundme.com/f/sooke-fire-fighters-for-the-sooke-christmas-bureau.
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