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Santa Runs on Fire Trucks

Have a toy ready to give when he visits your neighborhood

This Sunday, Santa chooses a shiny red fire truck over a red-nosed reindeer and sleigh. The reindeer are getting a break as Santa needs more horsepower this year to carry the load of presents from generous neighbors.
    On the annual Annapolis Santa Run toy drive, Santa makes 57 stops, to collect rather than give — though candy canes reward givers. Later this month, the toys you donate are delivered to kids in need throughout Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.
    The Annapolis Firefighters Local 1926 sponsors Santa Run, cooperating with Annapolis Volunteer Fire Departments in Arnold, Cape St. Claire, West Annapolis and Woodland Beach. With the help of many volunteers, local businesses, the Annapolis Police Department and the Anne Arundel County Sheriff’s Office, the Santa Run has brightened Christmas morning for almost 5,000 children over the past decade.
    The Annapolis Santa Run is funded by community and civic donations.
    Santa Run has grown to seven communities this year, with the addition of a West Annapolis route. Each route pairs an antique engine with a modern one, usually from that area’s fire department.
    “We try very hard to get at least one antique engine on each route,” says organizer John Muhitch, who owns one of the antique engines. “Thankfully, I have a lot of friends in the Chesapeake Antique Fire Apparatus Association.”
    In addition to the excitement of seeing Santa and his helpers, kids and grownups delight in the antique fire engines carrying the man in red.
    Santa and his elves also feel the spirit of the season.
    Magic happens every run, as it did at last week’s Woodland Beach Volunteer Fire Department Santa Run. An elderly couple and their grown disabled son waited as eagerly as kids to see Santa.
    “The look on his face — eyes wide open and just wanting to see Santa — was the look of a young child seeing Santa for the first time. His parents beamed with pride,” Muhitch says. “Santa immediately responded and made sure that this man would see the magic of the Christmas season. This is one of the many reasons that we keep the tradition of the Annapolis Santa Run alive.”
    Last year’s Santa Run delivered gifts to 1,043 children in Anne Arundel County; 500 gifts were donated to the Sharing Foundation of Anne Arundel County.
    “We generally know where the need is,” Muhitch says. “We fill in the gaps when other organizations are running short on their own drives.”
    The engines muster at 2:30pm at Truxton Park, where dozens of volunteers help Santa and the elves line up the convoys. From there they diverge on their routes, wrapping up collections around 7pm. Arrival times are subject to weather and traffic. Organizers say they will come in rain or snow — though not “a Buffalo snow or ice.”
    Run 1 begins at Constitution Ave. and Amos Garret St. at 4pm and ends at Chester and Second streets in Eastport at 6:45pm.
    Run 2 begins at the Wild Bird Center on Forest Drive at 3:45pm and ends at Fishing Creek Farms at 6pm.
    Run 3 begins at Annapolis Harbour Center at 4pm and ends at Hillsmere pool at 6:30pm.
    Run 4 begins at Hunt Meadows at 4pm and ends at Watergate Pointe Clubhouse on Americana Dr. at 6:45pm.
    Run 5 begins at Old Mill Bottom Rd. and Canterwood Court at 3:45pm and ends at Deep Creek Village at 6:45pm.
    Run 6 begins at Atria Manrese at 3:30pm and ends at Indian Hills Clubhouse at 7pm.
    Run 7 begins at Sherwood Forest at 4pm and ends at Monticello St. at 6:15pm.
    Donate new, unwrapped toys and games for girls and boys age two to 15. Please skip electronic games. Find the Santa Run stop closest to you at www.annapolissantarun.com. Donations can also be dropped off at any Annapolis fire station until Dec. 18.