Santa Tour travels around Seymour; coming to Brownstown on Monday

Some families stood near the road outside their home patiently awaiting his arrival.

Some people stood in their yard or on their front porch. Some stood inside their home at the front door. Some peeked through their windows.

Santa Claus was the star of the show this past week in every Seymour neighborhood.

The Santa Tour was conducted for the second year in a row, as a Seymour Police Department vehicle escorted a Seymour Fire Department firetruck decked out with Christmas lights along city streets.

Along the way, Santa and a helper standing on the firetruck tossed candy canes. Santa also used a microphone to wish residents a Merry Christmas, and Christmas music blared.

It was all to the delight of residents, from kids to adults.

“I just love seeing the joy in their faces, the happiness, even if it’s just for a moment,” Santa said after Thursday night’s trek around the northwest part of the city. “You never know what people are going through. You don’t know what’s going on on the other side of that door that they are leaning out of to see Santa, so you just appreciate the moment that they have of joy and the Christmas spirit.”

In 2020, what was then known as the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce brought up the idea of the Santa Tour since the organization’s annual community Christmas event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Director Dan Robison shared the idea with the police and fire departments, chiefs Bryant Lucas and Brad Lucas, respectively, were on board.

“It was just instant ‘Yeah, we’re in. We’ll do it.’ It was just no hesitation,” Robison said. “They didn’t know what they were signed up for, honestly. Nobody knew, but they were down. They were ready to do it and be a part of it, and that just speaks to the spirit of our community.”

After the first night of the tour last year, the chamber received a lot of positive feedback.

“I was like, ‘We’re going to do this. This is awesome,’” Robison said. “We had no idea what we were doing last year, just winging it, but it worked out, and everybody embraced it.”

When it came time to plan holiday events this year, it was a given that the Santa Tour would return. The chamber changed its name to Jackson County Chamber of Commerce earlier this year, and it also organized Christmas at Crossroads for the community Dec. 3.

“People seemed to really enjoy and appreciate it last year, and it just seemed to kind of bond the Christmas spirit in our community,” Robison said. “We have a diverse community, but I think the spirit of Christmas is universal with people. I think this event kind of brings that out in everybody. Don’t fool yourself into thinking this is just about the kids. It’s not. It’s the adults and older folks in the community. We all share that Christmas spirit.”

During the tour this week, Santa even received a few things from people, including boxes of cookies and Christmas wish lists.

“The elves will be busy,” Santa said, smiling.

Sarah Elliott said her kids and nephew loved seeing Santa go by on the firetruck.

“I think this is a great thing to do,” she said. “It gives kids and adults a chance to see Santa if they aren’t able to make it to see Santa at his house. Especially if they are sick, they can social distance and still see Santa.”

Kristal Hubbard enjoyed seeing Santa, too.

“We don’t have any children, but we still felt the magic of Christmas,” she said. “I think that no matter how old you get, you feel like a kid again (remembering past Christmases), and that was a gift in itself. It was awesome.”

Danielle Kaufman said she’s amazed with how many adults who don’t have children living at home anymore posted videos of going out and watching Santa.

“I feel like that speaks volumes,” she said.

Tressa Williams said she always loves seeing Santa.

“When he came by my house, it put a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart just like I used to get when I was a kid at home at Christmastime,” she said.

Heidi Collier used a new feature this year, Santa tracker, to look at the city’s GIS map so she could follow his journey.

“You run to your porch, watching the lights and hearing the music of the big red truck move closer to your home, and soon, there he is, Santa with his big, boisterous voice wishing you Merry Christmas,” she said. “In that brief magical moment, you become a kid again, and in your excitement, you are laughing and clapping and yelling back at him ‘Merry Christmas.’

Kayleigh Smith said she was so excited to see the amount of joy Santa brought to her daughters.

“Even though it was dark and cold out, they jump and squeal with excitement as they can hear him coming,” she said. “The best joy a mother can ask for.”

Tammy Davis appreciates the organizers for putting on the tour again this year.

“It makes the season special to see my grandkids’ eyes light up when they see this coming,” she said. “It helps the spirit for adults, too. Thank you so much for doing this for Seymour.”

Police officers and firefighters liked being a part of the Santa Tour, too.

On Thursday night, Officer Tim Toborg drove his police vehicle and had a lighted inflatable Santa in his passenger seat, while firefighters Toby Pauley and Reid Kovener were in the front seat of the firetruck.

“I don’t think we had a choice this year. Pretty much the public sentiment was we need to have this happen again,” Toborg said. “Whether you believe in Santa or not, everybody has that Christmas spirit, and sometimes, you need a little help getting it out, and that’s what this is about.”

Pauley said he likes how the grownups are into it as much as the kids.

“I did it twice last year and (Thursday) was the second time this year. I’ll volunteer every time. It’s fun,” he said, smiling.

Since the chamber expanded to include all of Jackson County, Robison said he reached out to outlying communities and fire departments to see about bringing the Santa Tour there.

Brownstown jumped on board, so the tour starts at 6 p.m. Monday only.

“Some of them already do similar things, so we just reached out to see if there’s a way we could partner or support them in any way, and Brownstown was like, ‘We don’t do that right now. We’d love to do that,’ so we worked it out with them to do it next Monday,” Robison said.

Residents agreed they would love to see the Santa Tour continue.

“It will be my new ritual as long as they continue,” Collier said.

“To me, it is like a new tradition. I am thankful for everyone that put the time and hard work into this. Thank you,” Elliott said.

“Thank you for the Seymour Fire Department for taking the time to make this happen,” Kaufman said. “We live in an amazing community.”

Organizers are ready to do it again, too.

“I’m in,” Pauley said.

“I’ll say yes,” Toborg said. “I knew the first year we did it, this is something to stay because the community has embraced it, and it’s here to stay.”