Santa pays early visit to Bristol

Santa makes his way down Barbara Drive aboard the Bristol Fire and Rescue Department's 1934 Ahrens Fox. Members of the Hydraulions join him for the ride. Santa makes his way down Barbara Drive aboard the Bristol Fire and Rescue Department's 1934 Ahrens Fox. Members of the Hydraulions join him for the ride.

Santa makes his way down Barbara Drive aboard the Bristol Fire and Rescue Department’s 1934 Ahrens Fox. Members of the Hydraulions join him for the ride.

Santa Claus may not be due in town for another 16 days, but he paid a visit to Bristol Sunday courtesy of the department’s Hydraulion station.

The jolly old elf was easy to spot as he drove through town atop the department’s classic 1934 Ahrens Fox pumper; the department’s Engine 1 trailed behind as he made his way through town, sirens wailing away. As another Hydraulion member steered the giant pumper, Santa and other department members waved to residents as they came out of their homes and tossed out candy canes to kids along the way.

“We see hundreds of kids,” Hydraulion Capt. James D. Annis said.

Santa’s visit is a long-running tradition in the Hydes that goes back decades, Capt Annis said.

“We’re just trying to keep tradition and the spirit going. It’s a really fun day.”

Santa and various Hydes members started their journey through town around 10 a.m. and weren’t expected to finish up until about 3 p.m. After that, members planned a small Christmas party back at headquarters for department members and their families.

“It’s a great morale booster for the guys,” Capt. Annis said. “They love it and the kids obviously love it.”

One of the unsung heroes in this year’s ride was DPW mechanic Brett Mancieri, who pulled long hours over the last few days getting the classic 1934 pumper ready for its trip. The engine has had some sparking and magneto problems, but Mr. Mancieri did a great job getting it road-worthy, Capt. Annis said. The engine was decked out in its finest, polished to a high gloss and had its engine covers off, so folks could have a look at its 78-year-old power plant.

“We’re pretty proud of it,” Capt. Annis said.

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