Below is the first letter to the editor announcing the change, and the second is a resident’s letter in response to the change. Our understanding of the decision is that it was made in response to complaints from residents in areas outside the traditional Santa by Fire Truck neighborhoods that the social club should not be utilizing department vehicles for this event if they are not going to do it throughout the entire city.
Support Santa on the fire truck
To the Editor:
The Vermilion Fire Company, Inc. is a social club of the men and women of the Vermilion Fire Department. As a club, we hold many different fund raising events to help support the personnel with-in our department and other departments, too. Throughout the year we raise money to donate to local charities and events, as well as, giving numerous scholarships to graduating seniors. It has always been the purpose of our membership and club to support the families of our firefighters’ and the residents of our community through the many events we hold each year.
One of the big events done annually by the Vermilion Fire Company is Santa on the fire truck, a time when Santa would ride up and down the streets of VOL passing out candy and Christmas cheer to the children who waited outside to see him. This event has been taking place for the last 48 years, originating in the neighborhoods of Vermilion on the Lake Firefighters’ Inc. Over the years it has grown to include the Edison Estates, Elberta, The Woodlands, High Bridge Rd., and the neighborhoods off Sunnyside Road. Santa on the fire truck is all funded by door-to-door donations collected in those neighborhoods. It tales approximately two days and about 20 hours to walk these areas collecting and about 8-10 hours on the day that Santa arrives and delivers treat bags to the children.
As a club and department, we just don’t have the manpower to be able to do this for our entire jurisdictional area. for this reason, it has been decided that this year Santa will arrive by fire truck on Sunday, December 16, at Sailorway Middle School and be there to greet children from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Children will have an opportunity to meet Santa and get a treat bag.
Also this year, the members of the department and social club will be collecting money at Station 1 and Station 2 on Saturday, October 27, and Saturday, November 3, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. This will be in place of our members going door-to-door. Again, Santa on the fire truck is solely funded each year by your donations. If you would like to send a donation to support Santa on the fire truck, please send your donations to Vermilion Fire Company – Santa, 5467 Ohio Street, Vermilion Ohio 44089
We want to thank you for your support and hope to see everyone on Sunday, December 16.
The Vermilion Fire Company, Inc
To the Editor:
I’ve been a Vermilion on the Lake resident my entire life. My family has lived here for 60 years. I won’t presume that I speak on behalf of VOL, but I believe there are not many VOL residents who will disagree with me. This is the first holiday season that “A Year Without A Santa Claus” will have personal meaning.
The decision to end the nearly 50 year tradition of Santa on a Fire Truck and move the event to Sailorway is a truly tragic. It speaks to the short-sightedness and loss of purpose of the decision makers in Vermilion. The purpose of the event was never to make sure every neighborhood in the city was serviced. In effect, what it did was provide the less prosperous section of the town with holiday joy. Should we ask that that the fire department stop distributing Thanksgiving Baskets to low-income families because every family in Vermilion doesn’t get a free Thanksgiving Basket? Are the people in this town really this selfish?
Throughout the year, there are many city events that don’t take place in VOL. I’ve never heard a resident from VOL complain that Santa docks at the park by the comfort station, and doesn’t come to Tiki Beach. I’ve never heard anyone from VOL complain that the Easter Egg hunt is in Victory Park and not Showse Field. I’ve never complained that the Ice-A-Fair is uptown and there are no sculptures at Drug Mart or the YMCA. If the idea is to have an inclusive town where everyone has access to all of the festivities, we need to open up a bigger discussion about how residents of VOL can have access to events like these in their neighborhood.
Think about what the fire department’s effort in VOL means to the people here, not about how it affects you. Pictures with Santa at the mall are $30. For a family struggling to buy gifts, the fire department might be the only opportunity for a kid to see Santa. The memories created by Santa coming to your house are very different than standing with 50 other people for a 60 second interaction, which is why the people in VOL are so upset about this decision. There are plenty of options in our city and throughout our counties to have breakfast with Santa and pictures with Santa. This is one singular event that brought something special to a part of the city that has traditionally been largely ignored by our leaders.
It is hard not to see this decision as just the latest blow to a neighborhood that is neglected by our leaders. Our tax money is spent yearly and our leadership spends time seeking grants that make the city more pleasing to tourists, to keep the businesses that depend on tourism attractive. You have your beautiful downtown. You have your docks. You have your restaurants. You have decent roads for tourists to travel on. You have your farmers markets. You have your festivals. You have Santa on the barge and by the comfort station. You have your Easter egg hunt and your fireworks. You have your Woollybear and your Ice-A-Fair. You have your Third Thursdays. Here on the Lorain County side, we have empty businesses, abandoned houses, undriveable streets, the Little Store, and the Clubhouse. And we had Santa. For the love of God, let VOL have something. Let the VOL Fire Department do this for VOL, and the other department can go to Sailorway.
If it’s a problem with donations or volunteers, tell the community that. In all my years of donating, I’ve never been asked to volunteer. If the goal is to make this event more accessible for the whole city, you have not accomplished this. You have in effect excluded residents of VOL from it. We don’t go to your tourist-geared businesses; we can’t afford to. We don’t go to your fireworks; we go to Tiki Beach and watch Lorain’s. The majority of the people who benefited from this will not go to Sailorway and they won’t donate to make this happen. You have forgotten the purpose of the event and what it means to the people. Shame on you.