FLINT TWP. — Children waiting for Santa Claus’ arrival at Genesee Valley Center on Nov. 11 were not disillusioned.
What to their wondering eyes should appear but Santa riding in a sleigh, albeit pulled by a red pickup truck instead of a red-nosed reindeer.
In the past, Santa has arrived riding on a fire truck courtesy of the Flint Township fire department. But this year two firefighters took it upon themselves to deliver Santa by way of something more traditional.
Kevin Clary and Rick Keller, two on-call township firefighters, spent more than 20 hours working on the colorful, lightbedecked sleigh that delivered Santa to the mall this year.
The truck-towed sleigh came into view with lights twinkling, music playing, bells jingling and Santa waving to the waiting crowd of children and their parents.
Clary and Keller said the firefighters’’ association donated materials needed for the sleigh. Built atop a trailer, it included a sculpted and painted seat for Santa, a Christmas tree surrounded by large gift boxes and lights and metallic trimming.
The firefighters said the sleigh is signed up for another appearance with Santa at the 27th Annual Swartz Creek Christmas Parade coming up Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. Organizers of the Flushing Christmas parade also have expressed tentative interest in using the sleigh.
Besides the firefighters, other Santa helpers for his official mall arrival included the Detroit Pistons Drumline who entertained the crowd with lively drumming beforehand. The Drumline then accompanied the Jolly Old Elf on a parade throughout the mall before he took his seat at center court to get down to the business of taking Christmas orders from and posing for photographs with the children waiting in line.
Santa will be at the mall until Christmas Eve.