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Santa is right fit for hometown parade

December 10, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

BOLIVAR, W.VA. - Where does Santa Claus go after headlining a Christmas parade?

In Bolivar, W.Va., on Saturday, he went to the Friendship Fire Co. hall, his home base.

His fans were waiting.

Making his second public appearance as Santa, Donnie Dunn sat atop a ladder truck and waved during the annual Christmas parade for Bolivar and Harpers Ferry.

Dunn, a lieutenant with the fire company, said children's faces lighted up as they saw him in his red suit with white trim.

It was hard to miss Santa at the tail end of the parade. The Friendship firetruck's siren blared, announcing his arrival.

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Its wail dominated the music of the Cougar Marching Band from Jefferson High School, parading in front of the truck.

The parade featured other homey touches.

Penny Judd rode on C.W. Shipley Elementary School's float showing Christmas as seen from around the world.

Judd is the mother of two girls who attend Shipley, ages 7 and 10.

Brian Meley wore elf ears and a green outfit and rode a unicycle.

Meley, a Bolivar resident, said he dresses as an elf the first two weekends of December each year and gives candy to people in Harpers Ferry.

Otherwise, he's a geologist for ECS, an engineering firm in Frederick, Md.

When Dunn dismounted at the fire station, parents and children were waiting inside.

As people helped themselves to cheese, crackers, cookies and vegetables, Tommy Underwood, the events chairman, thanked members of Harpers Ferry Bolivar Veterans for their service to the country.

Perry Mentzer of Charles Town, W.Va., said his group has more than 250 members across the country, and is not affiliated with other veterans' organizations.

Wearing distinctive green jackets with their group's logo on the back, the veterans had a float in the parade, said Mentzer, who served in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969.

Rod Snyder of Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., sang Christmas songs for the crowd at the fire hall.

Snyder, an "American Idol" contestant in the show's 2005 season, is a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., for CropLife America, a trade organization focused on agriculture and pest management.

Dunn, who works for the Jefferson County Ambulance Authority, had a few minutes of break time after the parade before posing for pictures and listening to children's Christmas wishes.

How did he get to be Santa?

His qualification was obvious: He was the best fit for the suit.

"No padding needed," he said.

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