The natural Christmas appeal of fire trucks—with their red paint and bright lights—are put to good use each year during the parade of lights and charitable food collection put on by the Thornhill fire department.
For the event, which started Sunday and runs tonight and tomorrow from 6 to 9 p.m., the detachment mobilizes seven of nine full-size trucks from its three yards in Thornhill, Gitaus and Lakelse Lake. (See the Thornhill Fire Department Parade of Light & Food Drive Facebook page for details about where it goes on each night)
In a blinking procession with blasting Christmas carols from a double sound system, the procession winds its way through the Thornhill and area protection zone, from Lakelse Lake all the way to Gitaus.
They cover almost every street in the area, collecting non-perishable food donations from residents. About 20 air cadets hang from the trucks, jumping off and relaying the donations from the residents to a pick-up truck at the back of the procession.
A Santa with long beard straddles one of the fire trucks, ho-ho-hoing. Candy canes fly right and left in a minty toss up.
Chief Boehm says the program, which last year amassed 4,000 pounds of food for the Salvation Army Food Drive, has been mastered over many years even before the food drive component which is only three years in.
He says that veteran organizer Ken Isaak of the detachment has been taking the lead of 15 years.
“A lot of our former chiefs have passed on so there is nobody to really tap into for history,” says Boehm of the history of the event. “We opened up in 1973, pretty sure [it started] not long after that.”
“It’s like float,” he says of the concept.
“Definitely not many of us are in any condition to sing,” he says of the musical choice. “Very modern upbeat Christmas carols, throw in a couple of the old classics.”
With the major vehicles out, Boehm says that responding to an emergency call wouldn’t be an issue because the Christmas lights and other accessaries do no prohibit mobility.
“Knock on wood, we have been lucky,” he said. “We had a medical last year.”
This year the parade team is being helped out by people from Emergency Social Services volunteers who aid displaced victims of fire loss and other tragedy. For 72 hours after an emergency, those affected by tragedy are sponsored for 72 hours of lodging and other services and support, a program largely driven by the 5,000 volunteers who help with Emergency Social Services around the province.