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Santa treks through town

Rocklin Fire Dept., elves, provide escort
By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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Santa Claus is taking a vacation from the North Pole for a sleigh ride atop one of Rocklin’s fire engines, greeting children with candy canes and holiday cheer. Monday kicked off Santa’s visits through Rocklin neighborhoods, beginning with the southern half of Rocklin Dec. 1-4 and ending in the northern half Dec. 8-11 from 6-9 p.m. Escorted by Rocklin firefighters and residents acting as holiday elves, Santa made his way through neighborhoods near Aguilar Road Monday evening, playing festive music and greeting children and residents with a “Merry Christmas.” Lisa Cooper was outside her home waiting for Santa Monday night. “We look forward to this every year,” she said. Cooper said Santa’s trek through the neighborhoods not only gets her into the Christmas spirit, but she also sees it as a merry event. “It’s how they (firefighters) give up their time,” she said. “It’s just for the kids.” Down the street, Peter Willson brought his 2-year-old daughter Gray out to see Santa. He finds it to be a less frightening way to introduce his daughter to the jolly man, as sitting on his lap can be scary for Gray. “It just really sets off the season,” Peter Willson said. “It gets her excited.” For approximately eight years, Captain Tim O’Brien has been coordinating the Santa visits, which began with former fire chief Jim Pennington more than 15 years ago. “I thought it was such a wonderful program,” O’Brien said. Every year O’Brien goes along on rides and one of his favorite things about the Santa visits is bringing spontaneous joy to residents. “The spontaneity of kids hearing music in the distance, dashing to the window. It’s magical for people,” he said. Although there’s no way to know exact times and locations Santa will visit neighborhoods, O’Brien said they try to hit them all. “We literally drive by the front doorstep of every home in Rocklin that’s not in a gated community,” he said. And it’s not only firefighters that ride along with Santa – it’s open to city employees and people from the community, O’Brien said. To keep residents and Santa Claus safe during the neighborhoods visits, firefighters request residents’ assistance. Rocklin firefighters ask that families remain on the sidewalk, not approach the vehicle and leave pets inside the house. If inclement weather prevents Santa from making scheduled rounds, he will reschedule for the nights of Dec. 15-16. For more information, go to www.rocklin.ca.gov.