Nov 102020

A classic file photo from a previous Santa’s Helper visit. Little Cindy Lou Hoo, who is a teenager now.

With an uptick in COVID-19 cases in town and too few reindeer masks for an extra trip to Orange, Santa has asked members of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary to cancel the annual Santa’s Helper fund-raising event.

“This is usually the time of year when we start planning the event that brings Santa and firefighters to homes all over town to deliver gifts,” said Jillian Gagel, president of the Auxiliary. The Auxiliary supports the Orange Volunteer Fire Department through fund-raising and other means. “Unfortunately, with the rise in coronavirus cases, it’s dangerous for our members to do the work they have to do to make the event happen and it’s equally dangerous to residents to have people they don’t know enter their homes.”

Santa’s Helper has been a treasured tradition in Orange for the past 26 years, run by the Auxiliary and spearheaded by “Elf Mama” Annie Davis, who passed away on Sept. 23, 2019, prior to the landmark 25th Anniversary event. Sadly, Annie looked forward to leaving the command center for the first time and joining the firefighters for the first time to experience the joy of Santa’s Helper last year. We knew she was with us in spirit.

The Orange Fire Chief called the cancelation an added disappointment to the Orange community and for the Fire Department.

“This is the second annual tradition that we have had to cancel due to the coronavirus pandemic,” the chief said. “We are very thankful that the Orange community has been wonderfully supportive with the $50K Fire Truck Challenge and other contributions but the health and safety of our members, the Auxiliary, the First Responders, and the community must come first.”

Both the chief and Miss Gagel expressed optimism that they would be escorting Santa to homes for the 2021 holidays.



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