Station 31 in Lacey on Sunday was the setting for some holiday cheer as 50 families and their children received gifts — the 19th year members of Lacey Fire District 3 have held the event.
Sunday’s gathering was organized by the Lacey Firefighters Charity, a separate nonprofit, including donations and assistance from the Red Wind Casino and two service clubs — Lacey Sunrise Lions and Lacey Mid-day Lions — said Battalion Chief Pat Harn.
Lacey Firefighters Charity members bought gifts on Saturday to augment about 600 gifts donated by employees of the Red Wind Casino, said Chief Steve Brooks. That allowed the charity to increase to 50 from 25 the number of families and their children who received gifts. There also were arts and crafts, food, music and face painting.
Harn said the charity works with North Thurston Public Schools to identify families most in need.
There also was a visit from Santa Claus, otherwise known as Tom Harn, Pat’s father. And Santa arrived in style, pulling up to Station 31 in a fire engine driven by Chief Brooks. Once Santa was helped out of the cab, he quickly worked the crowd, greeting children and hoisting them into the air. Inside, he even pulled on a man’s beard.
“Is this a real beard?” he asked.
Joseph Carlisle, 14, of Lacey, who also participated last year, said he appreciates the community support for the event, but it’s his two younger brothers, Joshua, 7, and Zachary, 6, who get a bigger kick out of it.
They both went crazy when they met Santa, he said.
Joshua, who is autistic, doesn’t always feel comfortable shopping, but Station 31 puts him right at home, said stepmom Trina Campbell.