Arlington firefighters and other volunteers from the city have helped Santa begin his travel’s through local neighborhoods during the 2019 Arlington Santa Run.
The event, in its 30th year now, collects food for the Arlington Community Food Bank and brings Santa Claus and a holiday decorated fire engine around to many residential areas throughout the town.
Last year the fire department volunteers received 11,684 pounds of food and $1,950 in monetary donations.
“We do this to acquire food and monetary donations for the Arlington food bank,” said Nich Sacha, a firefighter/EMT and one of the organizers for the event.
This holiday season the event began Dec. 6 and will continue to Dec. 15.
To see the routes scheduled for each day of the event, go to arlingtonwa.gov/santarun.
“I think it’s really cool how the department is able to go out into the community and help the food bank,” said firefighter Rick Neumann, who is participating in the Santa Run for the first time this year.
It is also the fire department's big event each year.
“This is kind of our community event we get to do for everyone. It’s how the community can see us outside of the working environment,” said Sacha.
Many people in the community said they like seeing it each year.
“We love it. I just love the small town feeling,” said local parent Shane Bradford.
He said his son enjoys the event and seeing Santa come by, too. “Every year he loves it and looks forward to it.”
Firefighters said they also enjoyed connecting with the local children.
“Obviously we do it for the food donations but there’s something to be said for passing out candy canes to the kids and seeing the community come together for a good cause,” said Sacha.
“It’s always fun to get out and see the community, let them see the fire engine and hand out the candy canes,” said Neumann.
The firefighters are also able to get together for the holidays as part of the Santa Run as well.
“I like the fact that we can get all of the fire department together, especially the families,” said fire department captain Phil Knebber, who has been participating in the Santa Run for 25 years now.
He said the event has gotten bigger as the town has grown, but the department likes to keep the tradition alive.
“We have people that participated when they were kids and now their kids are doing it,” he said. “It’s a great community event for us.”
Although originally a fire department event, Arlington has become big enough that they typically need help each year.
“It got so big that just the fire department couldn’t do it, so we reached out to the city and the hospital foundation, so it truly is a community event,” said Knebber.
Arlington firefighters said they look forward to continuing the Santa Run.
“We’re excited about this like we’re excited about every single year that we do it. We hope to continue this tradition,” said Sacha.
“Arlington has obviously gotten bigger but it still resembles a small town atmosphere. You’re not going to get this in Seattle or Bellevue. If we merge or get bigger I don’t think this will ever stop for us,” said Knebber.