Flint, MI — First responders, with a little help from Santa Claus, spread Christmas cheer to kids at Hurley Children’s Hospital with a surprise emergency vehicle parade on Dec. 21.  

Approximately 30 police cars, firetrucks and ambulances drove around the hospital with flashing lights and sirens.

“You could see some of the kids in the windows smiling and waving,” said Lieutenant Chad Watson from Mundy Township Fire Department, who also helped organize the event.

The parade replaced the annual Glow for Miracles event, a day where hundreds gather in Hurley’s parking lot with glow sticks and flashlights to give kids hope during the holiday season. 

Due to COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions, the hospital was forced to cancel the event. 

When Watson learned the news, he decided to do something about it. 

“You got all these kids in the hospital. It’s nice to give them a little bit of hope and something to smile about,” Watson said.

He contacted Hurley’s Public Safety Director Matt Murray and the two came up with the idea for the parade. 

“We both reached out to our circles and were able to put together an emergency vehicle parade ending with Santa on a firetruck,” Murray said. 

Three police departments, two ambulance companies and eight fire departments in Genesee County responded to Murray and Watson.

This time of year can be especially tough for kids in the hospital. 

“We are always looking for ways to make our pediatric patients feel special. Having Santa make a special trip to the hospital, even socially distanced outside, reminds our young patients that they aren’t forgotten. They are loved and everyone is pulling for them to get better,” said Administrator Marketing and Community Relations Laura Jasso. 

As for Santa, well, Murray said the guy owed him a favor. 

“I got him out of a parking ticket a few years back.  He left his sleigh unattended in a fire lane,” he said. 

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...