Santa’s armored sleigh hits the streets

Santa, Officer Karen Zirbel, and two city residents that caught up with Santa

POUGHKEEPSIE –The City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, in conjunction with the PBA and the Police Athletic League (PAL), gave Santa a special ride through the city on Saturday for the “Candy Cane Express.”

Riding in a blacked-out surplus Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, Santa and a police escort spent several hours traveling to various parts of the city handing out toys and candy canes to children.  

The frigid temperatures did not stop Santa Claus, also known as Poughkeepsie Dispatcher Jon Bernard from standing up in the hatch of the nine-foot-tall vehicle to wave to everyone and shout wishes for a merry Christmas.  

Police Officer/School Resource Officer Karen Zirbel said that the event was very well received.  “We saw around 200 kids,” said Zirbel as she pointed out that “Everyone was all smiles!”  

PBA President Kevin Van Wagner added that the gifts distributed were paid for by the PBA and the PAL along with a few private donations.  The Community Policing Officer was quick to say “Our officers are dedicated to this city.  In many instances, we encounter people who are not having a good day.  Today was the opposite.  It’s nice to give our residents a reason to smile.”

When asked about using such an intimidating looking vehicle as a sleigh, Police Captain Rich Wilson said “The MRAP was such a huge attraction at National Night Out that we thought it would be a great way to introduce it throughout the city.  Once again our officers did a great job of reaching out to the community.  As expected, the MRAP was a big attraction.”

The Candy Cane Express stopped at several locations throughout the city, primarily in housing complexes where a large number of children live.  Mayor Rob Rolison was pleased with the efforts of the police department.  “Our officers work around the clock to protect our city.  This is another example of their dedication to making this city a better place.”

In other communities around the region, fire departments gave Santa a ride in more conventional fire trucks, sounding their sirens and handing out peppermint candy canes.



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