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Along for the ride as police, firefighters – and Santa – take a journey through Alhambra

One winter break I was riding my bike around when I saw a big cherry red firetruck with a Santa Claus in his big cherry red suit. Behind him was a convoy of police cars and people shouting "Happy Holidays!" 

I assumed that the Santa ride around the city just to boost Christmas spirit in our community but it turns out to be more than that: Every year the Alhambra Police Officers Association works with the Alhambra Fire Department to hold a Christmas Toy and Food Drive.Saturday morning, I was invited to ride along with the Alhambra Police as they cruised around the city to the homes of six families. My journey started at a briefing room in the Alhambra Police Station. There, officers, firefighters and family members met to discuss Santa's route. Everyone cheerfully greeted each other as the briefing proceeded. After all, Santa doesn't make his move until things are well planned and everyone understands it. 

As we stepped out to the parking lot, it began to rain. Firefighters rushed to grab a tarp to cover the toys.The convoy, which consisted of firetrucks, police motorcades and cars from family members, began parading out of the police station toward the homes of the six families. As we arrived at each house we were greeted with shouts and cheers. The rain stopped and people were everywhere. It drew out the family that we were there to see and Santa was there to greet the kids. Santa and his helpers, the Police Explorers, would walk into the homes, ready to give food and toys to the family. These families have been suggested to the APOA through churches and schools from the community. 

Santa also had gifts for kids who happened to be walking by. Toys were given out to kids who came out to see what the excitement was all about. There were plenty of donated toys from the community to pass out to kids who were outside at the time. There is nothing better than seeing a child's bright and happy smile when they find out that they would be getting presents this year. A father of four had recently lost his job and was very thankful of the APOA and the Fire Department for what they were doing. 

On our way to the last house, a car presented a thumbs down. Turns out, some grinches hate this toy drive because it slows down traffic due to the parading of Santa. If only they knew why the APOA did this every year, for the past 30 years. In just that one day, I saw a lifetime of smiles.

More photos on the Alhambra Source flickr page.

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