BERKELEY – It might not be a “one-horse open sleigh” but it’s still worth singing about.
A group of family and friends have been getting together for about two decades. They bring Santa Claus around on a trailer made up into a sleigh, playing Christmas carols and spreading good cheer. The dates this year are December 10, 11, 17 and 18.
“Years ago, when my girls were toddlers I wanted to start a fun tradition for them. I had a big utility trailer, generator and small stereo system. I’d decorate the trailer with lights and garland, set up the sound and my wife and girls made a cassette tape with Christmas music. We invited a bunch of friends and I would just idle around my neighborhood playing music and singing carols. It was good old-fashioned fun. Over the years we have expanded our routes and nights,” said head elf Jim Dickhaus.
In the course of two decades, the tradition has grown. Some families see them year after year and look forward to the visit.
They pick areas that are safe to travel in. They also go where there are some children who could really benefit from seeing Santa.
“My wife and I are now retired from teaching in Lacey. I’ve grown to love their town, I know many people and decided we would tour through Lanoka Harbor. There are some, perhaps ‘less fortunate’ children there that I know of so we made it a special point to see them. We would purchase toys for our Santa to deliver. We also tour Pinewald, Holly Park and the east side of Mill Creek,” he said.
The adults in the group buy gifts and they load up in a safe location. The “sleigh” (trailer) is towed with everyone in it. Music plays as they idle through the neighborhood. A half dozen men wearing refractive gear watch for traffic and keep everyone safe, he said.
“If a family comes to the door, one of my security guys notifies me to stop. Once stopped the security team makes sure it’s safe for Santa and the elves (young children) to exit the sleigh. Now our elves are great. They look to see if the children are boy or girl and select age-appropriate gifts. They then walk up with Santa and Santa talks to the children. Santa then reaches back and the elves hand him the gifts for the children. It’s such a fun event. We even have dog treats for the family pets! I’ll be 60 this year and it never gets old,” he said.
The residents love the visits and sometimes even bring out cookies, hot cocoa or coffee.
“We stopped one night for two little boys. They ran out in their PJ’s that were inside out because they wanted snow! Mom came out, she had tears in her eyes. I walked over to her and asked if she was okay with toys, etc. She was. But she told me that the boys really needed to experience this and how much our efforts mean to her and her boys. For me, that made all the effort so worth it,” he said.
Santa On A Fire Truck
Additionally, the Bayville Volunteer Fire Department will be bringing Santa around on a fire truck starting the week of December 5. They posted a map and scheduled times on their Facebook page. You can track the fire company’s journey through the Glimpse app.