Children pressed their noses to windows and adults came outside their homes on Wednesday evening as sirens from Bryan County Fire Department Engine No. 11 blared through Live Oak and White Oak subdivisions off of Highway 17 in Richmond Hill.
But the sirens weren’t for a fire or any other emergency — the loud noises and flashing lights were to let people know the big man in red was passing through.
His white fluffy beard, black boots and red suit sent children scurrying outside barefoot and half-dressed to give hugs, say hello and pose for pictures with one of Santa’s helpers — Asa Clay with the Bryan County Fire Department.
“I thought someone had broken into the neighborhood again,” said Daniella Jones. “But this is awesome.
“This is very nice,” Alex Mittleman added.
Kevin Yu, whose two children posed with Clay for a photo, said he was glad his children got to see Santa.
“It was a nice surprise for the kids,” Yu said.
The trip through Richmond Hill’s neighborhoods is an annual event that has become known as the “Santa runs.” The firefighters of South Bryan County hand out candy canes to children and also collect toys for sick children in the area. Clay said the department gave out around 3,000 candy canes in this year’s Santa runs.
“I enjoy it — especially when the little kids hug me, that’s great,” he said. “Of course I’ve got six grandkids of my own.”
This year the fire department collected more than two dozen toys for the Pink Heals organization. Jake Murray, vice president of the Pink Heals Savannah Chapter, and full-time firefighter with the department, said the toys would be delivered to Backus Children’s Hospital in Savannah just in time for Christmas.
Murray said he has been driving the fire engine for the Santa runs for two years now. He said he’s glad the firefighters can collect the toys, but he also enjoys seeing children’s reactions.
“I like watching the kids get excited about seeing Santa,” he said. “Every now and again you’ll get one that gets really, really excited.”
Read more in the Dec. 26 edition of the News.