MAYWOOD, N.J. -- Wistful tears will no doubt flow in Maywood this Sunday when its volunteer first aid squad's 74th -- and final -- "Santacade" proceeds through town.
Although borough firefighters expect to pick up the annual Christmas Eve tradition next year, "the true history and excitement of the Maywood First Aid Squad will be lost" once the organization completes its final shift this New Year's Eve and closes its doors for good, one responder said.
"As with so many squads around the state of New Jersey, the training requirements are crushing membership," he said.
The Maywood First Aid and Emergency Squad began providing emergency care for the borough, along with mutual aid to surrounding towns, in 1941.
Soon after, the squad launched "Santacade," complete with Santa on a "reindeer-powered" sled -- led by a red-nosed Rudolph -- and plenty of helpers.
The procession has wound through town, creating moments and memories, every Christmas Eve for the past 73 years. Residents -- and even out-of-towners -- have crowded each stop with youngsters eager to give Santa their wish lists.
"The glow and smiles on children’s faces are amazing as they see Santa coming down the block," a borough first responder said.
As the procession approaches each stop this Sunday, many will surely look fondly on Santa collecting their children's Christmas wishes -- with some even remembering sitting on St. Nick's lap themselves.
And while they most likely can expect the borough's fire police to stage all future "Santacades," there will also be farewells to the first aid unit.
A huge turnout would honor the volunteers "for the countless memories they created for each of those children," one of them said.
The motorcade sets off mid-afternoon Christmas Eve.
The lineup of stops:
- 3 p.m.: Elm at Grove
- 3:30 p.m.: Stelling at Coles
- 3:50 p.m.: Cedar at Walnut
- 4:10 p.m.: Briarcliff at Stavola
- 4:30 p.m.: Edel at Mendez
- 4:50 p.m.: Poplar at Prospect
- 5:10 p.m.: Ramapo at West Magnolia
- 5:30 p.m.: Maybrook at Buckingham
- 5:50 p.m.: Orchard at van Cleve
- 6:10 p.m.: Golf at Hartwich
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