Santa has returned to the neighborhoods of Arlington with local firefighters as the annual Santa Run Food Drive is once again being held in the city.
The first day of the Santa Run was on Dec. 7 and the event will continue through Dec. 16.
In one local neighborhood each night a festively decorated firefighting engine with holiday music and Santa greets children and their parents.
At the same time firefighters and volunteers will be collecting donations of cash and food for the Arlington Community Food Bank.
The full list of routes and times is available at arlingtonwa.gov/272.
The event helps usher in the holiday season for many local families.
“It’s not Christmas until Santa comes along,” said Arlington local Susan Long.
“Every year we look up when he’s going to be here,” said local Jackey Homer. “I love it. It’s so awesome. We run outside the house every year when we hear them coming."
Local parent Sarah Price said she likes that it helps the local food bank as well.
“We love it. It’s fun,” she said. “It just brings Christmas spirit and the canned food drive is always awesome.”
The event is put on by Arlington firefighters with help from volunteers from the police, the city and the community at large.
Local firefighters said they like the interaction with local residents.
“It’s just a nice way to give back to the community and a chance to get out there when you’re not on an emergency call,” said Arlington Fire Department Captain Jason Brisson.
“It draws the community together. They don’t have to come to the downtown, and it does take a lot of work but we try and get out to all the neighborhoods in the city,” he said.
Firefighter JJ Wakefield said that he has been helping with the Santa Run for three years and he likes meeting the community.
“They get to see us in a different light … and get to know us on a different basis,” he said. “We only see them on their bad times, and with this we get to see them during the good time.”
Wakefield also enjoys giving local kids a chance to meet Santa.
“I love just seeing the kids faces. They get so happy when we go over there, bring them candy canes and Santa,” he said.
Gathering donations for the food bank is also an important part of why Brisson enjoys participating in the Santa Run.
“It’s a lot of work, a lot of energy, but it takes care of a lot of people during the holidays and feeds a lot of people,” he said.
“It brings in quite a bit of cash that can stretched a lot further,” he said.
The Santa Run has be held for decades in Arlington and Brisson said that the firefighters plan to keep the event alive.
“I don’t know if you want to call it tradition or habit at this point, but it’s something that a lot of us couldn’t imagine not doing,” Brisson said.