77 Years of Tradition Keeps Santa Coming to Park Ridge |
Metro Wire Staff
Santa and Mrs. Claus had a list of about 50 children to visit on Monday.
According to Park Ridge Fire Chief Brian Lepper, village firefighters have for nearly 80 years been visiting families in Park Ridge in the days before Christmas. This year, 50 kids in 23 homes received a visit, and a small goodie bag, from the world’s most famous couple riding in a village fire engine.
Village residents get to sign up for the annual visit when they go to the village hall on Election Day, Lepper said.
The village’s history books tell the story of the annual visits. The first time Santa visited village youngsters was in 1940. Then, Santa drove a horse-drawn sleigh and wore a $2.15 suit, hand-sewn for him by the Garden Club, the village’s auxiliary club for ladies.
Today, the wives of Park Ridge firefighters and Village Board members typically ensure the suit is clean and cared for, keeping the tradition going.
Santa stopped riding a horse-drawn sleigh in 1953, when the village purchased a brand new fire truck. Lepper said volunteers throughout the village keep the annual visits going.