Santa tours Oak Grove

Last weekend’s icy weather delayed the Oak Grove Volunteer Fire Department’s annual Santa Run for a week, but the jolly old elf was back Sunday, hitching a ride on a fire truck as he visited kids in Oak Grove and surrounding neighborhoods.

Two-year-old Brycen Pritchett was among the children who received some candy and small gifts from Santa Claus Sunday afternoon.

“We were expecting Santa last week, so I explained that the fire trucks probably couldn’t make it in the snow,” said Brycen’s grandmother, Dena Huck.

She said the Santa Run is an annual event for her family who have lived in the area for the last 28 years.

“We would wait for the Oak Grove fire trucks to come by every year,” she said. “It’s become a tradition for our family.”

Five-year-old Austyn Kephart could barely contain his excitement as Sunday morning dawned, according to his mom, Buffy Kephart.

“He woke up and shouted, ‘Mom, it’s Santa day,'” she said.

Austyn, who described the Santa Run as “awesome,” told St. Nick what he wanted for Christmas, then handed him a couple of cookies.

“I hope he tries them, we just made them with Nana and Papa,” he said.

Oak Grove VFD Chief Brian Pracht said the run allows hundreds of children to meet with Santa and receive a few treats every year. But the trip also helps the department keep up to date with residents within Oak Grove’s service area.

“Santa probably meets with several hundred kids each year, and it helps us keep up some good public relations with the entire community,” he said. “We also get to meet new neighbors who may have moved into the area.”

Kendra Palmer took some photos of her 2-year-old son, Grant, who came out to meet Santa at their Oak Grove Lane home Sunday afternoon.

“I like it,” she said. “I grew up doing this with my family every year. It’s such a nice tradition, and now Grant can do the same thing.”

Pracht said the department has conducted the Santa Run for a long time.

“I’m 43 now, and they’ve been doing this as long as I can remember,” he said. “And most of the guys in our department grew up with it.”