The parade is a small-town tradition that’s been taking place for over two decades
NORTH COUNTY — Over the past two decades, the Shandon Fire Station has been bringing Santa to its residents in an adorably wholesome fire truck parade. Most of the vehicles involved in the parade are privately owned, though you also have the station’s current fire engine leading the parade. You could feel the holiday magic in the cold night air as the parade passed fully decorated houses with residents waiting to spot Santa and the rest of his crew.
Paso Robles Press were invited to join in all the parade fun and ride on the same privately owned fire truck as Santa. We also chatted with Jim Sasules, the original Shandon fire captain, when the parade started. He said that it was one of his volunteers, Tim Benis, who came up with the idea for a parade that would bring Santa to the doors of Shandon’s residents. In fact, Benis was the first Santa who tossed candy to the kiddos while riding in the back of a pickup, which was followed by Shandon’s fire engine.
“And then it evolved into this. And it’s been going on for probably around 20 or 25 years. For a long time,” added Sasules. “It’s the only parade that comes to you. If you want to go to the Rose Bowl, what you gotta do? You’ve got to drive. Travel. No, this one comes to your house. You can stay inside and keep warm until we come and then pop out and say hi.”
The parade route weaves its way through Shandon, leaving from the Shandon Fire Station and heading straight to the Heights, which ends with a stop at a resident’s house that always provides hot chocolate, coffee, and other snacks for everyone riding in the parade. Santa’s entourage then headed downtown before heading to a few more stops and circling back to the station about an hour and a half later. On top of the fire trucks, the sheriff’s deputy also drove his police car, accompanied by The Grinch, also rolled in to participate.
“And then this year, the Boys & Girls Club wanted to be involved. I’m only worried that we have all the kids here,” said Sasules.
However, he did not need to worry; even with the Boys & Girls Club of Shandon on one of the fire engines in the parade, Santa and his elves handed out around 300 bags of candy to the kids of Shandon.
“It’s such a community thing that we don’t see anymore,” said Sasules. “It just keeps going bigger.”
The Boys & Girls Club of Shandon got its shot to be part of the parade when Club Director Carina Ramirez reached out and asked if they could participate. The parade’s coordinator called her back and not only said yes but also offered the kids and staff from the club a ride on one of the fire trucks during the parade.
“The kids enjoyed the parade! They waved, shouted ‘Merry Christmas,’ and smiled at their schoolmates, and their faces lit up when they saw their family and loved ones. They really liked the warm and tasty hot cocoa as well,” said Ramirez. “It definitely felt special to be able to be a part of our small community’s Christmas parade this year.”
The Shandon Fire Department doesn’t plan on stopping this delightful tradition anytime soon, and the local firefighters who participate always have a blast bringing holiday cheer to all.
“What we’re doing here is what these guys signed up to be,” concluded Sasules. “When you become a fireman, you wanna help and be friendly, and this is what the job is about: being a community person.”