In­spi­ra­tion

North Pole Fire & Res­cue’s chief brings magic to a lit­tle boy.

Country - - CONTENTS - BY MARK BUERSMEYER

Years ago, I vis­ited Sil­ver Dol­lar City theme park in Bran­son, Mis­souri. I was once a fire­fighter, so my cell­phone’s ring tone was the sound of a firetruck siren. As I looked around a shop, my phone rang. A lit­tle boy who was stand­ing nearby with his mother looked at me with cu­ri­ous eyes. I had a beard and was wear­ing a Santa hat, so I de­cided to have a lit­tle fun. My mother was on the phone, and she let me run with it. “North Pole Fire & Res­cue, this is the chief,” I an­swered. “Why, yes, Santa! What can I do for you, sir?” By now the boy was all wideeyed, think­ing that I was talk­ing to the big man at the North Pole. I pointed to­ward my phone and whis­pered, “It’s Santa.” The boy smiled and lis­tened closely as I con­tin­ued my con­ver­sa­tion. “Oh, yes, sir. We are in Bran­son, Mis­souri, check­ing on prepa­ra­tions for the big night.” I paused for a mo­ment and nod­ded to give the ap­pear­ance that Santa was talk­ing to me. Then I con­tin­ued, “Yes, Santa! Bran­son’s fire and po­lice de­part­ments are ready for you. We are go­ing to Spring­field, Mis­souri, next, and will call with an up­date when we get there.” I paused again to lis­ten, then signed off the phone call with “Merry Christ­mas!” The boy was beam­ing at the thought that I was the fire chief of the North Pole and had just talked to Santa. He asked why I was in Mis­souri in­stead of at the North Pole, so I con­tin­ued with my story. “Santa doesn’t want prob­lems on Christ­mas Eve, so we have been work­ing with fire and po­lice de­part­ments for years, mak­ing sure de­liv­er­ies go smoothly.” “What kind of things do you do?” he asked. “We make sure there are spare parts avail­able for the sleigh,” I said. “And if one of Santa Claus’ rein­deer gets a splin­ter in its hoof, then EMTs and paramedics will treat it with spe­cial medicine. We also make sure there is plenty of wa­ter and hay. It’s a long flight, and the rein­deer get hun­gry.” By now the boy was be­side him­self with joy. I asked him if he was be­ing good, and he said “yes” with a big smile. About an hour later I ran into his mother in a dif­fer­ent shop, and she told me some­thing very touch­ing. Ear­lier in the day they had tried to see Santa, but he wasn’t there. It was dis­ap­point­ing. Her son was sad, but his spir­its were lifted when he met the chief of the North Pole Fire & Res­cue and learned about Santa’s im­por­tant Christ­mas Eve prepa­ra­tions. She said I had made her son’s day. I told her I was thrilled to pass on a bit of Santa’s magic.

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