Why Does Santa Claus Ride on a Fire Engine in the Christmas Parade?

November 20, 2013
Santa Paula News

Each year Santa Claus starts the Holiday Season in Santa Paula by riding into town on a fire engine as the final entry in the Annual Christmas Parade down Main Street.  There is also a depiction of Santa Claus riding on a fire engine in the advertisement for the Christmas Parade in the Santa Paula Times.  Why is this?

The tradition started 63 years ago on December 15, 1950, when 700 children saw Santa Claus at the fire station after he traveled down Main Street on a fire engine.  In 1951 the High School Band led Santa Claus down Main Street.  In 1954 the Isbell School Band and the Briggs School Band joined the parade following Santa.  The “Santa Claus Parade” was held in 1955.

During the second half of the 1950s Santa rode on a sleigh mounted on a jeep.  Later he rode on a float with two reindeer and Main Street was decorated with well-lit plywood Christmas trees.  In 1958 2,500 children attended a party at the fire station after watching a parade with 23 floats.

During the 1960s and 1970s the number of entries grew to over 100 with a peak of 130 entries in 1975.  In 1970 the parade had 60 entries and Santa Claus rode into town on a new fire engine.

In 2003 the fire department revived the tradition of handing out candy canes at the fire station after the parade.  In 2005 Santa again rode into town on a new fire engine.  In 2006 retired Fire Chief  Paul Skeels was selected as the Grand Marshal.

This year the 64th Annual Christmas Parade on November 30th  continues the tradition with Santa Claus riding on the fire engine at the end of the parade.  Look for Santa in the parade and be a part of this Santa Paula tradition.

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