MONTVILLE, NJ - The weekend of December 21 and 22 was a jolly time in Montville Township. For both days, Santa Claus was driven around the township by the fire departments of Montville, Towaco and Pine Brook.
“My grandfather was the one who first started it and from there, it went bigger and bigger,” Jim Schmitt, Pine Brook Fire Chief said. “We love meeting and greeting all the families we see. It’s fantastic to do anything jolly with the community.”
Teams of Montville, Towaco and Pine Brook firefighters used their trucks to transport jolly, old St. Nick all over the district. Few times, they made stops for Santa to take pictures with kids, while firefighters handed out candy canes.
“You get out and meet people who love to see the firefighters with Santa Claus, instead of just at a fire,” said Lt. Rocky Trifari, from Pine Brook.
The Pine Brook Volunteer Fire Department has conducted Santa Runs for over 60 years, starting back in 1952, as had Towaco and Montville. And since then, township families have risen in the early morning, in the cold weather, to wait on their street for the fire trucks to bring Santa Claus.
“This is definitely a really fine tradition in Montville,” said Kashif Shzad, from Pine Brook, who witnessed Santa Claus in his neighborhood of Rachel Gardens Apartments with his sons Abdul and Taha. “Kids get to see St. Nick and get candy canes from the firemen.”
And the township children certainly had no complaints.
“We love it very much,” said eight-year-old Noah Wolf, who got to see Santa on his home street with his baby brother Teddy and dad Jeremy. “We waited all morning and I feel happy. It’s cool that Santa can stand on the tippy top of the fire trunk.”
Yet aside from the Santa Runs, there were other holiday projects by township firefighters. From Nov. 29 to Dec. 22, the Towaco fire department conducted their own toy drive, alongside the Montville PBA Local 140.
Toy drives have been held by Towaco firefighters for about 10 years. For this Christmas, the fire department was able to collect about 670 toys; all of which were to benefit and be distributed all over the township by the U.S. Marines Reserves’ Toys for Tots and the Montville Kiwanis Club.
“It feels good to get all these donated toys,” said Joe Gretkowski, a Towaco firefighter of 44 years, who oversaw the toy drive. “We do all this for the Christmas spirit. A lot of children don’t get toys some years and we as firefighters try to help more people in more ways than putting out fires.”
By the weekend’s end, Santa Claus was able to see all of the 19 square-mile district. Not to mention, township firefighters distributed over 5,000 candy canes!
To learn more about the Montville Volunteer Fire Department, visit their website at MONTVILLE FD.
To learn more about the Towaco Volunteer Fire Department, visit their website at TOWACO FD.
To learn more about the Pine Brook Volunteer Fire Department, visit their website at PINE BROOK FD.
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