Santa and sirens: Fire truck carries Claus through Bluffton

astice@islandpacket.comDecember 12, 2012 

From left, Bluffton Township Fire District Deputy Chief John Thompson, Chief Barry Turner and Santa Claus plan the routes Santa will take during his visits to area neighborhoods prior to Christmas Eve in 2012.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUFFTON TOWNS — Photo courtesy of Bluffton Township Fire District

  • Santa Claus will be riding a fire truck again tonight and from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday of next week, sounding sirens and bringing the joy of the season with him.

    Here's where he'll be:

    Today: Pinecrest, Pine Ridge, The Farm at Buckwalter

    Monday: Estates at Westbury, Rose Hill Plantation, Meadowbrook, Crowne at Old Carolina, Wind Tree, Wellstone, Grande Oaks

    Tuesday: Rose Dhu Creek, Palmetto Pointe, Mill Creek, Lawton Station, Parkside

    Wednesday: Rivers End, Oldfield Mews, University Park, Alston Park, Heritage at New Riverside

    For specific routes, go to

When Marybeth Schnurr and her fellow "60-plus-ers" heard sirens for 20 minutes Tuesday night, they wondered what the sound meant:


Heart attack?


"We're a very warm community, so we kind of watch out for each other," Schnurr said of her neighbors at The Crescent. "Everyone was saying, 'Who do you think it might be?'"

Turns out, it was only Santa taking a holiday spin in a Bluffton firetruck.

The Bluffton Township Fire District was carrying on a tradition that Schnurr said she remembered from her childhood in Valhalla, N.Y.: taking Santa Claus for a ride so he knows the area before hitting the chimneys on Christmas Eve.

Off-duty firefighters and the district's Ladies Auxiliary volunteer for the ride-along. This week, they've visited the Hallmark Apartments, Old South, Sawmill Forest and neighborhoods off Buckwalter Parkway. The tour continues from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday of next week.

District spokesman Capt. Randy Hunter said that he has received no calls from folks alarmed by the ruckus and that residents are often pleasantly surprised when the truck rolls by.

"People come out of their houses like, 'Why are there firetrucks in our neighborhood?'" he said. "Then they see it's Santa and they'll say, 'Go get the kids!'"

The district posts the Santa truck schedule on its website -- -- so people from neighborhoods who aren't in the seasonal loop can plan a visit.

"Santa's got a tight schedule you know," Hunter said. "He can't be in Bluffton all of December. Next year we'll make sure to hit the developments he couldn't go to this year."

The six fire stations in the district also serve as official drop-off locations for letters to the North Pole. Festive mailboxes labeled "Santa Mail" are set up outside of each one.

For Schnurr, the fire district is definitely high on the nice list.

"I wish (Santa) would have come into the Crescent because I would have gotten out with my grandbabies and waved," she said.

Follow reporter Allison Stice at

Related content:

Bluffton Township Fire District website

Key words: Santa, Claus, fire, truck, firefighters, Bluffton Township Fire District, sirens, route, roads, tour, letter, children, grandchildren, developments, neighborhoods, stations

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