WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Dozens of kids pressed their faces against the windows of the John A. Coleman school to watch a White Plains Fire Department engine haul in Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, and gifts, including sleds refigured for children with developmental disabilities.
The kids sang "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and other carols to greet the holiday guests before breaking out into applause and screams when the elevator door opened and Santa stepped out.
Some students, including Chase Sadowski, 4, of Putnam, had made signs for Santa. Others, such as Gabriella Capone, 4, of Eastchester, donned reindeer horns, a light up nose and other holiday-themed gear.
"The reindeer Rudolph is my favorite," said Capone, before receiving a stuffed dog from a firefighter in a Rudolph costume.
The Santa Express gift giving tour has been shuttling holiday characters who distribute holiday candy and stuffed animals to local nursery schools, the White Plains senior center, the Dickstein Cancer Treatment Center, other hospitals, and Coleman for more than 30 years.
Deputy Chief Richard Houlihan said the department enjoys seeing how happy the kids are when the Santa Express pulls in.
"It's the best Christmas present we get every year," said Houlihan, a Yonkers resident who has worked in the department for 30 years. "These guys put many hours in on the sleds and they look great because they knew they were for special kids."
Four sleds which were constructed and fitted to supply Coleman students with built-in safety precautions, were greatly appreciated by Keara Carr, 33, of Briarcliff Manor, whose 28-month-old goes to Coleman.
"You look at these sleds and to me it says, 'yes.' My heart just explodes because there are so many activities and things that say 'no,'" Carr said of her daughter Quinn's sometimes limited options because of her hip displasia and lack of the bottom two lumbers on her spine. "John Coleman just doesn't disappoint. Things that they know might be a struggle like getting out to see Santa, they bring to us."
Target, Wal-Mart, Macy's, and Mack-Cali Realty helped supply the White Plains Fire Department with supplies to run this year's Santa Express.
Do you know a person or organization that has given back to the White Plains community this holiday season? Join the conversation below.
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