Fire District 16 personnel escort Santa and his sleigh to a Lake Holiday resident last year to deliver candy canes and good cheer. Courtesy photo Anne Nesbit

This holiday season expect to hear a lot of sirens in the Key Peninsula.

However, many of them will not be warning of emergencies. They will be alerting residents that Santa Claus is in town.

Key peninsula residents will be visited by St. Nick in full force this season by the Key Peninsula Fire Department. The district and Key Pen Parks are sponsoring their annual Santa Claus run in December to visit most major Key Peninsula communities. Santa will be led by his infamous sleigh with nine reindeer lead by Rudolph and a group of volunteer elves.

Anne Nesbit, who coordinates the Santa Claus run for Fire District 16, said that Santa Claus will be delivering candy canes and Christmas cheer.

“It allows you to feel like a kid again,” said Nesbit. “If you have a case of the ‘ba humbugs’ this can really help you get out of it.” Nesbit has played Mrs. Claus in the past.

The wooden sleigh will be towed by a pickup truck and escorted by a fire engine, command vehicles and ambulances.

The journey is all kicked off by a Santa Claus breakfast on Dec. 7 from 9 to 11a.m.

Kids will be served pancakes and will have a chance to work on crafts and speak to Santa.

“We help get messages to the real guy,” said Nesbit. Nesbit says she enjoys the citizens’ contact and wants the run to help some of the more needy people in the Key Peninsula area who might be stressed during the holiday season. “Whether you’re Santa, Mrs. Claus or an elf it’s just a really good feeling,” said Nesbit.

Mike Fey started playing Santa Claus after he was approached by fire district when he was the owner of a barber shop in Key Center. He said he enjoys seeing the kids and hearing their wishes and wants. Fey says he was a natural fit to play Santa Claus because of his large build. “I definitely have the look,” said Fey. “Most kids see me as the real Santa Claus. However, occasionally I’ll get a kid who tugs on my beard,”

Key Peninsula Fire Assistant Chief Guy Allen drives the lead car on the Santa Claus runs.

The lead car plays Christmas music and gets people out of their houses.

Allen sometimes participates in reconnaissance missions to visit people who are angry that their house was missed. Allen said that the Santa Claus run was once seen as a burden by the fire department, but once people at Fire District 16 actually participated it helped build camaraderie within the organization.

Allen asks that people come out to the main roads after the lead car visits. He says that they won’t go down dead end cul-de-sacs because the sleigh is too big and cumbersome.

To sign up for the Santa Claus breakfast please contact Key Pen Parks at keypenparks.com.

The Santa Claus run schedule announcement is listed in this publication.

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