ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – Members of the Atlantic Highlands First Aid & Safety Squad are preparing to help guide Santa Claus through the borough and tracking the jolly fellow this year will be easier than ever.

The all-volunteer organization’s annual Santa Runs will get underway Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. and, weather permitting, will end Dec. 9. Each evening, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the squad’s ambulances will lead Santa on his sleigh through the streets of the borough, stopping to meet and mingle with families along the way.

This year, for the first time ever, the squad has mapped out Santa’s trip and will be updating the trail each night. The squad has divided the borough into four zones and will visit each on a specific night.

“Residents love the Santa visits, but each year we’re asked ‘When is Santa coming to my block?’ Well, this year they’ll be able to find out when we’ll be in their section of town,” said AHFAS chief Richard Huff. “With this upgrade, we’re making a great event better, and easier to follow.”

Residents will be able to log onto www.ahfirstaid.org daily and see where the squad is heading that evening. Likewise, should weather play havoc with the schedule – Santa only flies in fair weather – residents will be able to find the latest plan for the night. AHFAS 1st Lieutenant Tom Hayden will update the website on a daily basis and he’s also adding a holiday flair to the site to mark the occassion. The Santa Run information will also be available in the squad’s free electronic newsletter available at the website.

And, for the third consecutive year, the squad is building a food drive into the program. The organization is asking residents to donate non-perishable food items, which will then be delivered to the Atlantic Highlands Food Pantry at the United Methodist Church.

“Collecting food during the Santa Runs has been a huge success,” said Jerry Pandolfo, president of the AHFAS. “We’re an organization built on helping our neighbors. This is one way we can all help our fellow residents in need during a tough time of the year. Any donation is welcome.”

As with previous years, Santa and his sleigh, along with help from members of the Atlantic Highlands First Aid Squad will move slowly through town. To help prepare the route, they’ll be judiciously using the sirens, have flashing lights going, and holiday music playing to let residents know Santa is on his way.

For children with special needs, or any other questions during the Santa Runs, please call the AHFAS’ non-emergency number of (732) 291-8118.

The Atlantic Highlands First Aid Squad provides free around-the-clock emergency medical services and rescue operations to area residents. The squad operates only on donations from the community and the borough.

“It’s hard to tell who has more fun during the Santa Runs; the squad members or the children getting to see him and their parents,” Huff said. “The reaction of the children is delightful. Collecting food along the way adds another element of satisfaction to the trip. Adding the online map to the process should only enhance the experience for residents.”

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