The Pembroke Fire Department set a record of sorts in mid-December.
The department, which has been doing what are locally known as Santa runs for about five years, finished up the holiday tradition by covering the entire city faster than ever.
“I don’t know how we did it this time,” Chief Peter Waters said on Dec. 12. “We finished in three days this time, and it normally takes five days.”
Pembroke’s Santa runs are similar to those done each year by Bryan County Fire and Emergency Services and the Richmond Hill Fire Department. Santa Claus, usually played by a volunteer firefighter, is perched atop a fire truck and then driven though subdivisions while lights flash and Christmas music plays. There are usually stops at homes so Santa can get down and meet children of all ages, distribute candy and pose for photographs.
It’s as much fun for the firefighters as it is for the kids.
“The most rewarding part is getting to see the smile on the kids’ faces and seeing their face light up,” said fi efi hter Caitlin Jackson, PFD’s only full-time fi efi hter.
A 2015 graduate of Bryan County High School and the department’s first female firefighter, Jackson said she and Santa, played by her father, Tim Jackson, a volunteer firefighter, may’ve also made some believers again when they used the kids’ names.
“We heard some of them say they didn’t believe, but this Santa was able to figure out their names and that surprised them,” she said. “I think we made a couple kids believe in Santa again, so it was worth it.”
Her father said he was asked to play the part for one night and had so much fun he decided to come back for more.
“I really enjoyed seeing the kids come out to meet Santa, it makes it all worthwhile,” Tim Jackson said. “When you see the kids light up, it puts you in the Christmas spirit, no doubt.”