Fire department’s Santa Parade battles the elements

A winter storm, below-zero windchill and a house fire couldn’t derail the Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View Fire Department’s annual Santa Parade the first week of December.

During the four parades, firefighters collected approximately 2,500 pounds of food for those in need in local communities.

The parade was relatively routine in Blaine Dec. 2 and 3, but on Dec. 4 in Mounds View, the first winter storm of the season hit.

Even as the snow fell, 45 firefighters were ready to hand out candy canes and take in food donations for local churches and the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf.

Then, a call came in: a house fire in Blaine.

More than half of the trucks sped off to the emergency. Three engines remained, Battalion Chief Dan Retka said.

In the parade’s 26-year run, a fire has only occurred one other time, according to Retka. “It was still fun,” he said.

When temperatures dropped overnight, “I honestly thought we were going to be by ourselves,” Retka said of the final parade in Spring Lake Park.

He was wrong and happy to be.

Families bundled up and turned out, arms laden with food donations.

Riding atop his sleigh, a new addition in 2012, Santa brought the parade to a close – until next year.

Olivia Koester is at [email protected]

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