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THE STREAK: La Verne Will Do ‘Whatever It Takes’ to Ensure Christmas Tradition Continues

December 20, 2017
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With the help of volunteers, La Verne is seeking to extend its bright, fire-truck-red, 91-year-old tradition of delivering treats on Christmas.

LA VERNE, California, December 20, 2017 — La Verne’s 91-consecutive-year Christmas tradition of delivering nuts, fruit and candy to residents living on the more than 900 streets that make up the city is an amazing achievement.

 

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It’s right up there with Floyd Mayweather’s 50 straight winning bouts, Rafael Nadal’s 81 straight victories on clay and Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.

 

But that impressive decadeslong run could be on the line in a few days because as Fire Chief Peter Jankowski told the La Verne City Council on Monday, his department is short on volunteers needed to drive the trucks and engines and distribute the goodies from roughly 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Christmas.

 

In the past, many off-duty La Verne firefighters volunteered, supplementing the department’s on-duty personnel. Many of the volunteers’ family members also joined in, sometimes logging as many as a dozen miles each, tirelessly leaping off the trucks (and back on again) to hand-deliver the Christmas treats.

 

But in December, the La Verne Firefighters’ Association filed a federal lawsuit against the city, alleging  retaliation, harassment, discrimination and other hostile actions on the part of the city. (see http://www.laverneonline.com/2017/11/27/under-fire-la-verne-fire-department-battles-its-own-blaze-2/)

While no councilmember linked the two actions — the lawsuit and the lack of volunteer La Verne firefighter volunteers — La Verne resident Rick Bowen did.

 

“Am I the only guy in the room who is addressing the elephant in the room?” asked Bowen. “You have the mainstream firefighters who have just filed a federal suit against the city alleging the chief is doing things against them because of the election, and — now I don’t want to speak for them — but it seems they’re reciprocating, ‘we’re not going to do this.’

 

“I want to ask, how do we get where our firefighters are now at war with their managers? When does anybody address this issue? Obviously, they’re not volunteering for a reason. It’s frightening.”

 

The city, however, made it clear that despite the present dispute, the parade (actually there are six designated delivery or “parade” routes) will go on.

 

“This is a tradition in the community that everyone loves, from. grandparents down to little children, so I’m in favor of doing whatever it takes to make this continue,” Councilwoman Robin Carder said.

 

In response, the council approved a request by Chief Jankowski authorizing the expenditure of overtime funds to call in full-time staff as drivers, and recruit additional volunteers as required to complete the La Verne Christmas program.

 

On Wednesday, the La Verne Fire Department also posted on its Facebook page a request for “30 members of the community to assist” with the deliveries.

 

“If you are 14 years or older, in good health, able to walk/light jog for moderate distances, and available on Christmas morning from 6:30 am until approximately 2 p.m.,” the posting read, “we welcome you to join us in this long-standing community tradition!

 

“Send an email to lburtz@lavernefire.org with your contact information if you are interested.”

 

Santa could be on his way, after all, stretching La Verne’s unique streak to 92 straight.

One Response to “THE STREAK: La Verne Will Do ‘Whatever It Takes’ to Ensure Christmas Tradition Continues”

  1. Hello, I was at the meeting Monday night and heard all the people speak. I didn’t know all of the things going on in our city. I am not taking sides just forming my own opinions. I have enjoyed the Christmas program for years as a resident. The mental notes I took were there is some tension in the fire department possibly causing a staffing issue, the chief only asked for $500.00 to pay for fireman to work, the other fireman said all they we’re concerned about was safety and people wearing seatbelts not that they were not going Do Christmas morning just that they didn’t want people jumping on and off of the fire trucks and wear seatbelts for safety. I just started going to council meetings and encourage all citizens to go and listen to what’s going on in our city. I also had the chance to meet some of our city workers after and talk to them it was nice.
    Merry Christmas.

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