The Brigantine Fire Department came up with the idea for what it dubs Santa's Island Ride as a way to help comfort the community shortly after Superstorm Sandy hit in late 2012.
“A lot of people were in a bad state, and this was just something the fire department decided to do to kind of boost the town's spirits,” said Brigantine Fire Department Capt. Paul Fuller, who coordinates the effort.
The event involves Santa Claus riding around on the back of a 5-ton rescue truck decked out for the holidays, tossing candy to kids and bringing good tidings to all he passes.
The ride takes place over two nights, 6-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Dec. 14 and 15. Santa will visit south-end streets on Thursday, and the north-end streets on Friday.
Fuller and his team have tweaked the tour each year to try to improve it. A modification made last year that will be part of the event again this year is live-streaming where Santa's truck will be via the department Facebook page to let residents know when they can expect to see St. Nick drive by their homes.
“It's a good way to give people a heads-up,” Fuller said. “The sirens let them know we're in the area, but the sound can carry pretty far and we might not be on their street for quite a while after they actually start hearing us. By following the Facebook page they'll be able to know almost exactly when we should be coming by their homes.”
The enthusiasm from the community has been exceptional year to year, Fuller said.
“It really has become a fun communitywide event each holiday season that people really seem to enjoy,” he said.