Miali Reid, Makinsey Morford and Lyndley Nakamura take a photo with the Grinch along South Franklin Street during the Capital City Fire/Rescue Santa Parade on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Miali Reid, Makinsey Morford and Lyndley Nakamura take a photo with the Grinch along South Franklin Street during the Capital City Fire/Rescue Santa Parade on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Christmas tradition: Juneau firefighters keep magic of Christmas alive

Capital City Fire/Rescue and Saint Nick team up for parade

Seven-year-old Charlotte Millen scanned the approaching big red vehicles while standing with her parents across the street from Harborview Elementary School. With her mom holding onto her hood to keep her on the sidewalk, the energetic girl locked her eyes on Santa Claus, standing next to Mrs. Claus atop an oncoming fire truck.

Santa waved to the adoring child on his way down Glacier Highway, leaving Millen in disbelief.

“I can’t believe I just saw Santa!” Millen shouted. “This is the best day ever!”

Santa and CCFR have teamed up for decades to create such moments. The planning of the Santa Parade starts shortly after the Fourth of July, said CCFR Assistant Chief Chad Cameron, who has volunteered with the parade for over two decades.

“This is just so positive and we’re seeing people in a positive environment, not because they called us because there’s problems or they’re having a bad day,” Cameron said shortly before the start of the parade. “We’re just giving out candy canes and seeing the public, taking Santa around, letting everybody say hi to Santa.”

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus greet children along Glacier Highway during the Capital City Fire/Rescue Santa Parada on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus greet children along Glacier Highway during the Capital City Fire/Rescue Santa Parada on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

The parade begin shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday at the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway parking lot. Santa and Mrs. Claus boarded a fire truck fashioned into a sleigh. With volunteer firefighters leading the way, the fire truck drove down South Franklin Street to Calhoun Avenue, and then down 12th Street, Behrends Avenue and Glacier Avenue toward the Douglas Bridge.

“It even keeps it alive for the older kids,” Victoria Scharen said while waiting near the tram with her adult children and grandchildren. “He’s 10, she’s 8, she’s 9, and even for them, they still believe, and this stuff helps. The whole magic of it. It makes it so much easier for even the older kids to still believe.”

When she was a child, Scharen said the U.S. Coast Guard hosted a similar event. Instead of riding atop a fire truck, Santa arrived to town on a helicopter.

“The helicopter would be gone,” she said. “The kids would all gather and we would watch it come in and land. It was a whole thing when I was a kid and the Coast Guard did it.”

The Millen siblings, 7-year-old Charlotte, and 3-year-old Amadia, came from earlier holiday festivities. Mother Dawn Millen said the family attended the Christmas Carnival put on by Studio 58 inside the Nugget Mall.

“We came from that this afternoon and used as a quasi birthday party for the little one (Amadia) and it was great,” Dawn Millen said. “We did a piñata smash-up, and the kids did arts and crafts all day.”

Lyndley Nakamura and her brother, Keaton, had also come from earlier holiday festivities. The siblings had just finished watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in the Marine Park Pavilion when the Grinch visited them in the flesh across the street from the Red Dog.

When asked what it was like to see Santa, Lyndley answered with one word: “Awesome.”

More in News

Artist Rob Mullen stands on Long Trail, the country’s oldest long distance trail, in Manchester, Vt., on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Mullen was nearing the end of his 272-mile month-long hike down the length of Vermont, painting along the way. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)
Artist hikes nation’s oldest long-distance trail, painting along the way

He had planned to paddle in the Northwest territories of Canada. But then the pandemic hit.

The Juneau Police Department Community Service Officer waits as a vehicle is pulled out of the ditch at the intersection of Egan and Yandukin Drives near Fred Meyer on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has announced five proposed alternatives to better manage traffic at the intersection. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)
DOT presents 5 options for Fred Meyer intersection

Extensions? Traffic signals? Both?

Gov. Mike Dunleavy gives his State of the State address before a joint session of the Alaska Legislature on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Judge: Alaska governor used veto power to punish courts

A judge said Dunleavy’s vetoes violate the separation of powers doctrine.

Juneau Police Department Chief Ed Mercer, left, and Deputy Chief David Campbell, right, pose with Sgt. Nick Garza, center, for Garza's promotion to sergeant on Oct. 14, 2020. (Courtesy photo / JPD)
JPD officer promoted to sergeant

He has been with JPD since 2009.

U.S.Attorney General William Barr speaks during a roundtable discussion on Operation Legend, a federal program to help cities combat violent crime, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in St. Louis. Barr also spoke via recorded message at the annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention. (AP Photo / Jeff Roberson)
Alaska Natives, law enforcement affirm partnership against public safety crisis

Partnerships, tribal authority, and reliable funding cam help strangle this crisis.

First Student employees and Juneau School District food services supervisor Adrianne Schwartz, left, carry student meals off the bus they’re being distributed from near Juneau-Douglas High School:Yadaa.at Kalé, March 16, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Juneau schools announce free meals ahead of Alaska Day weekend

Four days worth of food will be available on Friday.

This is a police car.  It has always been a police car.
Police calls for Friday, Oct. 16, 2020

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A sign in the window of a business on South Franklin Street in downtown Juneau on April 14, 2020. State officials say additional employments payments will be sent out next week. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
State says increased unemployment payments start next week

‘We’re trapped with this COVID thing.’

Most Read