2nd Annual Carp-Summerland Firefighters Santa Run

By Joanne A Calitri   |   December 27, 2022
Captain Jay Erwin as Santa in his perch on firetruck 61 ready for the Santa Run (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

Carpinteria-Summerland Firefighters, the Local 3368 International Association of Firefighters, held their 2nd Annual Santa Run on Friday, December 16, with routes through Carpinteria and Summerland respectively. 

Founded two years ago by Firefighter (FF) Pat Cockrum, Vice President of Carpinteria-Summerland Firefighters, the event is a community favorite with the entire crew and fire engines from 1926 to present day decorated with lights and holiday cheer, led by Summerland Fire Dept. Engine 61 with Santa in his sleigh on top.

The Santa Run has both a toy donation and money collection fire boot. Locals who were helping with the collections walked behind the Santa firetruck, and included the families and friends of the firefighters, First District County Supervisor Das Williams and his two daughters, and the Summerland Citizens Association Board President Phyllis Noble, who contacted all the businesses along Lillie Avenue to participate in the drive.

Before the run, both Cockrum and Association President Dean Carey took time for a quick interview. Here’s what they had to say:

Q: How did the Santa Run come about?

Pat Cockrum (PC): The event is run by the Carpinteria-Summerland Firefighters Association’s community service outreach program. I brought the idea from the Fire Department in my hometown in Northern California. When I arrived at the department here five years ago, I noticed we didn’t have a large Christmas event. In El Dorado County where I grew up, the Santa Run was a huge event and the community anticipated it every year. Neighborhoods piled into their front yards and had barbecues while they waited for Santa to come through. Having a home on the parade route made you very popular. The goal of the Santa Run is to bring our community together and help the less fortunate have a few gifts under their tree for the holiday.

What is the mission of the FF Local 3368?

Dean Carey (DC): Our mission is to protect and care for our community, which provides us the means to care for our families. Carpinteria-Summerland Firefighters believe that our mission continues beyond just our job duties. We believe that caring for community means giving young people, who are the future of our community, a positive interaction with their firefighters. We also sponsor kids for junior lifeguards in the summer, teach CPR to high schoolers, purchase protective equipment for kids at the new skatepark, and have open houses, along with our Christmas outreach. I believe some other fire departments in California also have a Santa event, but we are the only local event like this that I know of. 

Where do the toys and funds go this year?

PC: The Santa Run this year will be working with Carpinteria Children’s Project, Carpinteria giving tree, the Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc., and Transition House of Santa Barbara. All donations go directly back into the community. I believe this is the best part, your $5 comes into the program at $5 and leaves at $5. All supported by our membership and volunteers. On the routes, we collect toys and fill the boot with donations. 

DC: We have again partnered with the local schools for our Christmas outreach. Our firefighters have donated $1,500 for The Giving Tree through Main School in Carpinteria. Our firefighters donate their time to the program to wrap gifts and will be giving the gifts to kids at the fire station with a tour this year. We also collect food and gifts at the fire stations for the Unity Shoppe of Santa Barbara. In addition to that giving, we are taking all the ‘Fill the Boot’ cash donations and unwrapped gifts from our ‘Santa Run’ to the Transition House in Santa Barbara. 

411: If you missed the boot and want to donate, contact the team at www.carpinteriasummerlandfirefighters.org

Over 30 people and kids joined their favorite firefighters getting ready for the Santa Run (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

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