Instead of cookies, nonperishable food items are what Santa’s craving this year.
The Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View Fire Department asks families to bring food donations to its annual Santa Parade Dec. 2-5.
The sirens will start wailing promptly at 6:30 p.m., as the parade takes off in west Blaine, east Blaine, Mounds View and Spring Lake Park, respectively.
Fire, police and emergency vehicles will make their way down the four routes, collecting food for local food shelves.
Santa will greet kids from his sleigh, led by nine reindeer, a new addition to the parade last year.
The routes remain the same:
Monday, Dec. 2, west Blaine hosts the longest parade route. It starts at 131st Avenue and Jefferson Street, travels down past the Blaine Jaycee Community Park and ends up south of County Road 10 at the intersection of 91st and Jackson streets.
Dec. 3, the parade hits east Blaine, starting at Rice Creek Parkway and Xylite Street. The parade crosses Highway 35 and moves north, past the Ball Road Industrial Park. The parade ends at Fire Station Four, 10290 Lever St.
The third route covers Mounds View, beginning at Arden Avenue and Spring Lake Park Road Dec. 4. The five-and-a-half mile route winds around various neighborhoods before concluding at Lakeside Lions Park.
The final parade is Dec. 5 in Spring Lake Park. It starts at Able Street and 79th Avenue and travels in a neat rectangle, up Able Street to 84th Avenue to Terrace Road to 79th Avenue to end where it began.
The weather is always iffy the first week of December in Minnesota, but Mary Jo Clark, executive assistant for the fire department, does not believe the food collection has ever been canceled in its 26-year run. Snow will not stop Santa’s reindeer; a blizzard might.
Although the fire department’s food drive has been a community tradition for many years, this is only the third year of its current parade format.
In 2011, as communities continued to grow, the fire department decided to map out official routes to collect food, rather than go up and down nearly every street, Clark said. It became too much, she said.
Since 2011, the parade has continued to grow. “Every year it gets bigger,” Clark said.
If families cannot make any of the four Santa Parade dates, nonperishable food items can be donated at Station One in Spring Lake Park, 1710 County Road 10.
Visit www.sbmfire.com for more information.
Olivia Koester is at firstname.lastname@example.org