In the words of Nueces County ESD #2, “just as important as responding to emergencies is supporting our beloved community.” These words are taken to heart, especially in December.
EMERGICON’s Southwest Texas Account Manager, Nikki Mattick, recently walked into ESD #2 fire station to find the day room and hallway filled with bags of candy and toys donated by the community. Fire Chief Wes Beseda mentioned the station’s annual fire truck Santa parade, and Mattick asked if she could help or tag along. He said to tag along!
Since 1956, Nueces County ESD #2 has hosted a fire truck Santa parade. But it’s not just any parade these days. It comprises eight nights of parades, four hours each night, where Santa and firefighters pass out candy and wave to families. It takes elaborate planning to map the routes for a different scheduled neighborhood each night. Thankfully, the Flour Bluff News shares the street names and schedule for the community.
A lot has changed in the 66 years. The first year Santa and the firefighter team delivered toys to 30 children. Today, they pass out 10,000 bags of candy in Flower Bluff, the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, and Padre Island as they drive through the neighborhoods with sirens and Christmas music. Residents and community members volunteer to help fill the candy bags. Another group of volunteers walk or run behind the float to pass out the bags of candy and toys. It’s truly a community effort for the community.
Chief Joe has played Santa for the last 20 years. He knew residents by name and would hop off the float to talk to children and hand out toys.
The nights of parades are so appreciated by families in the area. Many people share their thoughts on their Facebook page.
Here are just a few examples:
“Thank you so much for making my kid’s night. We recently moved to the Bluff. Seeing what you do for the community is beautiful. Santa and all his helpers were extremely kind. Keep spreading the joy!”
“Our community loves all you do to keep us safe. Each year you go beyond for our little ones this time of year. You don’t know how much of an impact you do for the little kids and how many hearts you touch.”
We love working in our industry with amazing first responder teams like Nueces County. It truly is a calling for those in the emergency services industry who serve others and give so freely of their time and heart.