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Santa brings serious gift of safety

December 22, 2007|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

CLEAR SPRING ? Santa's schedule has been booked solid of late with appearances at malls, parties and even homes.

He has been fielding gift requests and taking account of naughty versus nice quotients at breakneck pace.

But Saturday, during Breakfast with Santa at the Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Co. Special Events Building, Santa Claus had another matter on his mind ? safety.

Deputy Chief Warren Royce said the company invited Mr. Claus so children could enjoy breakfast with him, but also to get a message out to children and adults alike.

"This is a way to get us involved more in the community and to get people in the community thinking about fire prevention and safety," Royce said.

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Royce said some safety issues require particular emphasis this time of year because of Christmas traditions like tree and decorative lighting and gift-giving. He emphasized the importance of following directions when using decorative lights and not overtaxing electrical sockets.

"(Santa) is getting people thinking about tree maintenance and safety and about finding gifts for children that are suitable, that are not choking hazards. There's a lot he's trying to instill," he said.

Santa arrived at the event via fire engine at 9 a.m. He went inside and cozied up next to a brightly decorated tree, greeting children as they arrived.

After finishing their meals, most children hopped up onto Santa's lap to receive a goodie bag and a word about safety, then to make last-minute gift requests while parents snapped photos.

Eight-year-old Robert Stottlemyer of Hagerstown said he was hoping for a mountain bike. Abbi Talbert, 11, of Clear Spring wished for a black kitten and Guitar Hero III.

Company members Jeff Jenkins, 41, and Erin Carpenter, 32, of Clear Spring, took their son Caleb Jenkins, 2, to the event. While Caleb did not want to sit with Santa, he happily borrowed Mr. Claus's sleigh bells and danced around jingling and smiling.

Santa went outside with a group of children to pose for photos with Engine 42.

Company member James Moore, 36, of Indian Springs, said his 5-month-old daughter Heavyn had a head start on fire prevention and safety awareness.

"I got her one of those battery operated fire trucks you can ride on before she was even born," Moore said. "Once of these days, I'm gonna get her on it."

Tony Lida, 36, of Hagerstown, also a company member, took his daughter and his girlfriend's son to the breakfast.

"I think this is a great idea. It gives the community some information on fire safety and it helps kids be more aware at an earlier age," Lida said.

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