Bray People - - NEWS - By FIN­TAN LAMBE

EMER­GENCY ser­vices in Wick­low will be on standby in the early hours of Christ­mas morn­ing should their ex­pert train­ing be needed to come to the aid of a spe­cial vis­i­tor who is ex­pected in the county some time be­tween 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

Lead­ing the Santa Emer­gency Re­sponse Team is the Dublin-based Res­cue 116 Coast­guard he­li­copter which has been fu­elled and is ready to ac­com­pany the man in red through Wick­low, should he need an es­cort. They’ve also taken on board spe­cial rein­deer food should en­ergy lev­els be run­ning low. Also on board are spe­cial hooks to catch any Christ­mas presents that may ac­ci­den­tally fall from the sleigh.

Lo­cal RNLI Lifeboats and Coast­guard In­shore Res­cue Boats are also on standby to go for any sacks of presents that fall out over wa­ter, and Coast­guard and Civil De­fence crews are also ready to search shore­lines in case any presents come loose along the windy coast­line. This rarely hap­pens, but the vol­un­teers at th­ese valu­able ser­vices are al­ways ready to re­spond to an emer­gency 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Fire crews are also on alert should there be any par­tic­u­larly roar­ing fires pre­vent­ing Santa from get­ting down the county’s chim­neys, and of course am­bu­lance crews are on standby in case he gets stuck up a chim­ney. Gar­daí are also plan­ning to work over­time to en­sure the sleigh stays se­cure while Santa is vis­it­ing each house.

Santa is ex­pected to use Hook Light­house in Wex­ford as his guid­ing light into Ire­land, then im­me­di­ately swing right and head to­wards Wick­low. Once he’s passed the lights of Gorey, he will turn left to cover Carnew, Shil­le­lagh and Ti­na­hely be­fore zig-zag­ging his way across the county, fin­ish­ing up in Bless­ing­ton and Bray.

As weather con­di­tions are still un­cer­tain for Christ­mas Eve, Santa’s sched­ule is still not fixed in place. If chil­dren watch the sky to the West to South West at around 5.25 p.m. or around 7 p.m. on Christ­mas Eve, they may see a light high trav­el­ling high in the sky - if there are no clouds. Santa nor­mally leaves the North Pole early on Christ­mas Eve to be­gin de­liv­er­ing Christ­mas presents in other time zones.

Mean­while, emer­gency ser­vices are giv­ing high pri­or­ity to the wel­fare of Santa’s rein­deer this year. Those in charge of the snow globe at Bray’s Town Hall are on standby in case the rein­deer need to dip their hooves in the icy wa­ter. It’s well known that they get red hot when they fly at such speeds.

SPCA an­i­mal wel­fare or­gan­i­sa­tions in the county have had in­ten­sive train­ing in spe­cialised rein­deer care. Wick­low SPCA has said its vol­un­teers un­der­went five months of train­ing and can now scrape ice off a rein­deer, un­tan­gle its tail or treat an in­jured hoof in un­der twenty seconds. A spokesper­son for the so­ci­ety said ‘it’s all about speed. Santa Claus has a lot of work to do in just one night – you can’t af­ford any down time. Ev­ery­one thanks Santa, but it’s the rein­deer that make him look good!’

He said there is still con­cern about the amount of car­rots which are left out for the rein­deer. It is a proven fact that car­rots make rein­deer break wind and the an­i­mal wel­fare or­gan­i­sa­tion is con­cerned the ef­fects this will have on the en­vi­ron­ment, and Fa­ther Christ­mas him­self, who has to sit be­hind them. It’s also said to cause dizzi­ness in pen­guins. The so­ci­ety rec­om­mends some blades of grass, a bit of fruit, such as an ap­ple or orange or bowl of wa­ter.

The most im­por­tant thing is chil­dren must get to bed early on Christ­mas Eve so Santa isn’t de­layed in do­ing his rounds. And while ev­ery­one is asleep, don’t for­get, there are teams of ded­i­cated and trained pro­fes­sion­als on standby ready to make sure Santa, his rein­deer, and all of us have a safe and happy Christ­mas, and for that, we thank them.

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