Volunteers from House #1 and House #2 of the Hardyston Fire Department decorated firetrucks and two 18-foot trailers and then set out for the communities they serve, dispensing holiday happiness along the way.
Kevin Huyer, captain of Firehouse #2 and chair of the Santa Committee, said many of the firefighters work on the displays every year.
One of the trailers carries Santa and his sleigh.
“We built the Santa sled that Santa sits on,” Huyer said.
The other trailer is decorated with blow-up Christmas characters and decorations.
“We decorate our ladder truck and one engine with Christmas lights,” said Huyer. “We have a car stereo on Santa’s truck. We start working on our displays at least four to five months before the Christmas season. We fix lights, paint things, work on wiring, and we try to add something new each year.”
The fire department has put on its Santa Run every December for the past 15 years, traveling through most of Hardyston and parts of Stockholm on the three Saturdays before Christmas. House #1 is located at 3 Colson Terrace in Stockholm, and House #2 at 69 Wits End Drive in Hardyston.
Usually, Huyer said, the children get on the firetruck and take photos with Santa while a snow machine blows snow around.
This year, however, children were not allowed on the truck because of the pandemic. So the Santa committee made signs for the children and their families to hold while standing in front of the Santa trailer. The signs said “Hardyston Township Santa Tour 2020.” Residents loved the idea because the posters give the time frame for the photos.
In addition, the trucks have two donation buckets on each trailer. Instead of mailing in their donations to the fire department, many residents wait for the trucks to pass. Families really look forward to the Santa Run every year.
Huyer they switch up the times and locations every year.
“The residents love to see the trucks decorated with lights at night, so one year a certain section will be visited at night,” he said. “And the following year they change the nighttime schedule to accommodate other areas of the towns.”
Anyone who doesn’t get to see the lights lit up at night get their chance the following year.
“We try to make everyone happy as much as we can,” Huyer said.
On the first Saturday, Dec. 5, the Santa Run visited all the Lake communities in Stockholm. On the second Saturday, Dec. 12, the Santa Run visited part of the north side of Hardyston. The last run, on Dec. 19, toured the Crystal Springs community and all of Mountain Road (County Route 517).
Christmas music plays as Santa waives to residents. Local stores donate the candy that firefighters hand out. One year, Huyer said, Crystal Springs resident who worked for a Pet Smart donated hundreds of stuffed animals for distribution.
Residents of the few areas where the Santa Run doesn’t go can travel to the neighborhoods where it does by following the schedule posted on the fire department’s Facebook page and website.
So, despite the pandemic, frigid temperatures, and snow, the Santa Run never wavered, bringing fun, joy, and happiness to one and all.
“We try to make everyone happy as much as we can.” Captain Kevin Huyer