The Fire & Rescue Candy Cane Crew, pre-parade Sunday. Below, the parade rolls out to bring light as darkness falls Sunday evening.
Santa Claus came to Saint Michael’s College Sunday evening with a bright and noisy Saint Michael’s Fire & Rescue entourage, delivering much-needed Christmas cheer and candy canes around a campus saddened by this past semester’s death of several beloved community members, and perhaps anxious about coming final exams.
Marty Maloney -- aka Santa Claus and also a first lieutenant for the Saint Michael’s College Rescue Squad -- said Sunday’s tour around campus by several fire trucks, an ambulance, 16 Fire & Rescue volunteers and two Public Safety officers (but no partridge in a pear tree), was his brainchild. He rode as Santa in the bed of the Fire Squad’s pickup truck functioning as his “sleigh,” complete with a Rudolph red nose and antlers on the truck.
“I didn’t anticipate being Santa, and this was my first time playing him,” said Maloney, a junior neuroscience major from Middletown, NJ. “As a kid you always see Santa coming off a fire truck and handing out presents, and it was an interesting transition being on the other side! I’m not sure if I was super-convincing since I don’t have the build for Santa, but I’m working toward it in my old-age.”
Maloney said it all started last week when he went to Public Safety Director Doug Babcock and Rescue Chief Leslie Lindquist ’05 with his sudden inspiration to throw a Santa parade. He says after they gave him the green light, he went to Grace Kelly in Student Activities, who offered to have her office buy several hundred candy canes to distribute. Kelly also tipped him off that the College Alumni Office had a Santa suit, so he went and picked that up. “They said, ‘thanks so much for doing it -- this semester especially, when everyone really needs the Christmas cheer, and with finals coming up’” said Maloney, who also was provided an attachable pillow to create Santa’s appropriate girth as part of his costume.
At about 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Public Safety posted on its website that Santa had been sighted in the area, while Maloney posted it on the Class pages. “We rolled out at about 5 p.m. in a procession that featured two ambulances and one fire truck, and then our fire pickup truck which was Santa’s sleigh leading the pack,” he said.
With sirens and blinking lights announcing their arrival, the Santa parade stopped first by the library as folks walking by started to gather; then they moved around to the Quad area, which brought out a lot of students from residences and the Dion Center. It was then off to the new residences. “We wrapped up around 6 p.m., so it was about an hour-long drive-around,” Maloney said adding that they pumped Christmas music through the fire-truck loudspeaker, causing some to dance, especially Santa-Marty, he admits.
“A lot of people were coming out and taking videos or getting candy canes when we would stop in front of buildings and give people time to come out,” he said, explaining that the on-duty fire and ambulance crews were at the back of the procession in case they had to cut away, but no calls came in.
Maloney said about a third of all the Fire and Rescue student volunteers turned out to participate at pretty short notice after he put out the call. “We had people in their fire or rescue gear but also wearing Santa hats or reindeer antlers. Everybody brought something out and was distributing candy canes, too,” he said.
He only heard of one person who hadn’t gotten word ahead of time they were coming, and so that person briefly “thought we were evacuating the school,” Maloney said -- but they soon cleared that up. “We didn’t have any disasters, and I would love for it to happen again in coming years,” he said.