Parents and children alike stood outside in the chilly December air Sunday afternoon to greet Santa Claus, many still sporting pajamas and sleepy faces.
The jolly old elf and several firefighters from the Hopkins Hill Fire Department made their way through the streets, sirens blaring and Christmas music playing so residents could catch a glimpse of their favorite man in red.
The fire department has been following this holiday tradition since 1974, back when the route was much shorter. "The route has grown so much bigger because the district has grown so quickly," said Hopkins Hill Fire Chief Frank Brown. "What used to take maybe an hour and a half now takes about three."
The fire trucks began at the station at 1 Bestwick Trail. They visited residents in Mishnock, then backtracked down Hopkins Hill Road to Tiogue Avenue, and through the residential neighborhoods for the rest of the afternoon.
Santa and his crew of fire fighters always stopped briefly to say hello to any children who had a Christmas wishlist for Santa, or those who were offering milk and cookies. Firefighters handed candy and fire helmet pins to everyone braving the cold.
"This is a pretty big event around town," said Brown. "Everyone looks forward to it, and some people even plan parties around it."
By the excited smiles and cheers that could be heard, Santa has a big fan base in Coventry and will continue this tradition for years to come.