After learning that the Central Coventry Fire District may not be able to escort Santa Claus on his annual neighborhood visits this year, two Coventry residents have organized a community event in hopes of saving the beloved holiday tradition.
For more than 20 years, the fire district has taken Santa Claus for a ride through nearby neighborhoods to visit Coventry children and their families during the Christmas season. The tour generally takes about five nights to cover the district, with firefighters volunteering their time to drive the fire truck, but the cost of fuel will be the hurdle this year.
Central Coventry Fire District has been in the midst of a special mastership since October, allowing only court-appointed Special Master Richard Land to make financial decisions. The $1,800 fuel bill required to complete Santa's tour is not one that the district can currently afford - a point that Captain David Gorman recently said may cause it to be canceled this year.
"The Santa details are something that our guys really want to do because we honestly enjoy doing it," said Gorman. "But it takes us an entire week to cover our district and it costs money to fuel the truck."
In hopes of saving the tradition, residents Ray and Cheryl Robbio have organized a Chili Cook-Off for Dec. 15 from 1-5 p.m. at the Coventry Men's Club, located at 30 Phillips Hill Road. There will be a $10 fee per person, which includes "all the chili you can eat, until it runs out", entry into a 50/50 raffle and the opportunity to vote for the winner of the cook-off who will then receive a prize. Children 12 and under are free.
"The Central Coventry firefighters volunteer their time to do this for residents each year, so we decided to help out and hope raise as close to the $1,800 as possible to pay for the fuel for the fire truck," said Ray.
Many members of the community have also reached out to the fire district and offered donations to cover the Santa detail's fuel costs. Any additional funds raised for the cause will be saved and used for Santa's future visits to Coventry.
Those interested in entering the competition or donating to the cause should contact Ray at email@example.com or by phone at (401) 249-0312.