Better watch out: Santa is coming to your neighborhood in Dover

DOVER — After taking a year off from sitting and waving to youngsters from atop City of Dover Fire Department trucks, Santa Claus has announced that he will return to his familiar perch again this Christmas season for 2019 Operation Santa.

The big guy with the beard in the bright-red suit will be traveling to neighborhoods throughout Dover with volunteer firemen, as he said his elves will be busy putting the finishing touches on the toys and loading up his sleigh for his upcoming annual trip around the globe. Fire trucks carrying Santa through Downstate communities to visit children is a popular practice and he’s been keeping busy with many companies in Kent and Sussex counties.

Santa’s schedule for his upcoming travels that will take place Dec. 17-20 is posted on the City of Dover Fire Department’s website and Facebook page.

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen, who also volunteers with the fire department, is happy that Santa will get together with some of Dover’s first responders again this year.

“I’m excited to see this tradition of the Dover Fire Department return,” Mayor Christiansen said. “It brings the community together and allows the public to be reminded that the men and women who are bringing Santa to their neighborhood are their friends and neighbors who volunteer 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. At Robbins Hose Company, we believe.”

Many community members also seem to be pleased that Santa Claus will be making his traditional trek around Dover.
“Thank you for doing this again,” Jennifer Haught wrote on the Dover Fire Department’s Facebook page. “We truly appreciate everything each of you do!”

The fire department decided to bring the community to the fire station at 103 S. Governors Ave. last year, electing to keep Santa grounded for the year.
The move to the downtown location was made “due to all of the apparent confusion and statements that were made over the past few years that Santa either missed neighborhoods, certain streets or people stating that they were not home when Santa came through.”

Firefighters thus decided that a better option “was to be more personable and to have Santa come to the fire station and have the children come visit him there.”
The switch to in-house came after several years of trucks covering as much territory as possible for four to five hours on a Friday, followed by eight hours on both Saturday and Sunday.

That amounted to a lot of time firefighters were spending away from their own families, in addition to the roughly 1,500 calls they respond to annually.
“We have a huge fire district and trying to get everywhere is very manpower and labor intensive,” DFD spokesman Third Assistant Chief Michael O’Connor said, in the wake of not taking Santa to neighborhoods last year.

“There was some good feedback for it but you’re never going to make everyone happy no matter how much planning and effort you put into it.”
Santa Claus has already made his annual runs with the Camden-Wyoming Fire Company, visiting neighborhoods from Sunday until Thursday this week. His week got off to a wet start as rain showers fell on him Sunday, but things improved as the days went on.

Citizens Hose Company No. 1 of Smyrna will have its Santa Run from Dec. 22-24. His neighborhood visitation schedule is posted on the fire company’s website and Facebook page.
This year’s visit to Smyrna-Clayton by Santa will be dedicated to Jack Caldwell, who helped keep the Santa tradition alive in the community throughout the years.

“Bless you for all the hard work and planning that goes into this,” Vicky Fountain wrote on the Citizens Hose Company No. 1’s Facebook page. “You give up hours and hours of your own pre-Christmas days to bring so much happiness to your neighbors. I can’t wait! Hearing those sirens on Christmas Eve is one of the highlights of my whole year!”

The Carlisle Fire Company in Milford will be bringing Santa to visit its Kent County residents on Sunday from noon until 5 p.m. and the jolly fellow will visit the Sussex County residents of the city on Dec. 15 from noon until 5 p.m. He will be traveling to the east and west sides of town.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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