Santa Claus took time out of his busy holiday schedule this year to visit the boys and girls of Juneau, and he did it in style — atop a red Capital City Fire and Rescue fire engine.
Children bundled up in winter garb and lined up and down Franklin Street eagerly awaited Father Christmas’ grand appearance Friday evening for the annual “Santa on the Fire Truck” event hosted by CCFR.
Before Saint Nick arrived downtown, some families took pictures by the twinkling Christmas tree in the park across from the clock tower while others sang “Here comes Santa Claus” and other Christmas carols to bide the time.
Suddenly, sirens wailed and lit up the night sky.
“Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas!” a voice blared over an intercom.
“It’s him, he’s coming,” squealed 5-year-old Rylan Murdoch in excitement. “I want down,” she told her grandfather, Erling Olsen, who was holding her.
A laughing, jolly Santa, wearing his signature red outfit with a reflective “Capital City Fire and Rescue” embroidered on the back of his coat, waved to kids from his perch up high as Christmas carols rang out from the engine’s loudspeakers and filled the night air.
“Have you been good this year?” he asked over the intercom with a wink.
The ladder on the engine was decorated with reindeer poster cut outs and garland, making it Santa’s very own CCFR sleigh.
Dozens of firefighters in full gear marched next fire truck and handed candy canes to kids whose mouths were agape.
“Just spreading the Christmas joy,” firefighter Kristina Moore said cheerfully as she handed sweets to kids jumping up and down.
For Karen McCoy’s family, it was a night to remember.
“My son is just so into fire trucks, he was beside himself,” she said with a laugh. She added, “He downed his candy cane in three seconds flat.”
Santa’s fireproof sleigh made its way from Franklin to Fourth Street, along Calhoun Avenue, down 12th Street to Glacier Avenue up Highlands Drive along Behrends Avenue and looped back to Glacier Avenue. He then crossed Douglas Bridge and went up Cordova Street to Foster Avenue around the loop at Cedar Park, back down Cordova Street, and continued to Douglas. He continued down Second Street, to St. Ann’s Avenue, and looped back towards the middle of town on Fifth Street.
CCFR Chief Rich Etheridge said in an earlier interview he was glad Santa could show up a few days early and put Juneau in the Christmas spirit. He said Santa has attended the event for as long as he can remember.
“It’s just one of those traditions that the departments built years ago, and it’s kind of carried on from there,” he said. “It’s a cool event, it’s a lot of fun.”
Francine Brown remembers riding on the CCFR fire truck as a little girl, at her grandmother’s urging. She said she attended this year with her family to carry on the tradition.
It was the first time Terrie Goenett and her children, who donned red velvet Santa hats, attended the event.
“We came just to see Santa,” Goenett said, adding her 6-year-old daughter was excited beyond belief. “She was like, let’s go, let’s go!”
Her daughter said she wanted a Princess Barbie for Christmas.
Children will also have an opportunity to see Santa at the kids Christmas party from 1 to 3 p.m. today at the Auke Bay Fire Station, 11900 Glacier Highway.
And just about an hour and a half after that, Santa Claus will embark on a second ride-along with CCFR. Santa will be on board an Auke Bay-area fire department truck greeting children and spreading Christmas joy beginning at 4:30 p.m. That route will begin at the Auke Bay fire station, and will proceed down the back loop road to Lake Shore Drive, Steelhead and Silver streets, Wren Drive, and on to the Montana Creek subdivisions. The truck will then return to back loop road, stopping at the All Season subdivision.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.