by Ted Hickman
Here it was a week before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse… Really.
It takes over 100 person hours to construct Santa’s Workshop and the “coats for kids” addition. The Dixon Fire department has one crew that has helped for years. This crew, as luck would have it, was called out as a strike team to releave another Dixon strike crew in Southern California battling the huge fires there.
We were left with a semi-truck trailer and two storage locations to unload while trying to build the workshop and prepare for Santa to welcome over 500 children with the coat crew scrambling to get ready to put about 600 coats on chilly people.
As we have done for the past 50 some years, we forged ahead trusting the funds would be ample and help (from out of nowhere) would arrive to help save Christmas for hundreds of children. It always seems to work out; never the same way twice has it seems.
This year it took the new Fire Chief, Jay Bushrow, jumping in to help hang the stuffed animals from the ceiling above Santa’s head since no one else was available. Then an angel in the form of Melissa Maseda appeared asking what help we needed.
The project is done in a step-by-step piecemeal progression. We said we couldn’t go to step two until we had the semi-trailer contents emptied and placed inside the Denverton Hall at the fairgrounds.
She made a few calls and out of nowhere the Dixon High School boys’ varsity basketball team (Top photo) arrived and in a few hours had the job done.
Another crew was building the stage and entrance and working on the setup for Santa, while Mike Hamilton and sons and Jack Caldwell retrieved our stuff from storage adding to the heap inside the building.
The next day, the next step was to sort the piles down to a workable system and this time the high school boys’ junior varsity team (second photo) appeared, coaches and all, and members of the boys and girls soccer teams arrived too. (third photo)
Throw in a couple of adults who just appeared and the combination got the job done to prepare Santa’s program’s in plenty of time. What usually took several days collectively, took just a matter of hours, collectively, with the super Dixon High School student power… what a neat feeling to see these student take time from their winter vacation to jump in and help others.
That’s not the end of it. The inglorious part is always the “clean up” on the 26th, no one’s favorite job and in the past it took us and our family and one of two loyal supporters up to 6 or eight hours to clean up, put everything away for another year and put the building back in the same shape it was in when we got it.
So what to our wondering eyes did appear but the high school girls’ basketball team (fourth photo) and some of the high school boys’ and girls’ soccer players who set a record time of just over 2 hours to put the whole program, coats and all, to bed for 2017.
My first wife Linda, and I were bushed by this time, having walked over 25 miles indoors during the previous10 day stretch.
We dreaded, and didn’t have a clue, how we were going to get “clean up” done. This group of students saved the day for us and coupled with their gift wrapping 4-H crews brought the total number of local students helping, one way or the other, to over 100…
For over half a century now, when the need arises, the Christmas Spirit provides whatever is necessary to complete the job. It’s never been exactly the same way twice but our dependence on the giving spirit and loving nature of this community has never let us down.
Miracle may be too strong of a word but Christmas magic would certainly apply. To all involved, at every level, our Santa’s Crew thank you – the children, thank you and Linda and I thank you. We hope each of you feels really good about your part to make the holiday season a better time for the less fortunate.
We hope you have a happy New Year!
by Ted Hickman