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Santa comes to town on a fire engine

Twins Arianna and Ashlee Derr were among the children who shared their wishes with Santa at an early Christmas dinner sponsored by Firefighters Local 437. - Photo by Charles Melton
Twins Arianna and Ashlee Derr were among the children who shared their wishes with Santa at an early Christmas dinner sponsored by Firefighters Local 437.
— image credit: Photo by Charles Melton

Seeing Santa at the Max Hale Center on Dec. 17 marked the first time first-grader Kierra Derr saw him this year.

“It was good to see him, and I get to see him three times this year,” Kierra said. “He’s magic.”

Kierra, along with her mother, Mandolynn, and twin sisters, Arianna and Ashlee, were among the more than 45 people who attended the holiday dinner sponsored by the Bremerton Firefighters Local 437 for the residents of the Max Hale Center and their families.

“I loved it and it was very nice to have this,” Mandolynn said. “If you don’t have any family this is great.”

The event provided a relaxing evening and allowed children of all ages to enjoy the season, she said.

“We’re doing well and it’s been great watching the kids be kids,” Mandolynn said.

This year marked the third year the fire fighters union has hosted the event, said Todd Thorsen, president of the local 437.

“In the past we used to adopt one or two families, but it never worked out quite like we wished, so we adopted this place,” Thorsen said. “It gets better every year.”

Thorsen, who has been a firefighter for 24 years, said every firefighter simply enjoys the opportunity to help out the community.

“We’re having a ball doing something like this for these families,” he said.

Each year 30 or 40 firefighters volunteer and Chris Wright, a chef-turned-firefighter, prepares the meal, he said.

“Chris has been busy all week preparing the food, and he’s done an incredible job,” he said.

This year’s dinner included prime rib,

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