It all started in the late 1940’s, a single strand of 10w colored bulbs was strung across the three apparatus doorways. In the early fifties, a Santa was made with two burlap bags sewn together and filled with crumpled up newspapers. This was covered with an old fire coat to keep him dry and more paper stuffing in the arms. Each year, Firefighter Sonrenson’s mother made a red Santa suit out of old cloth. A Santa mask from Grant’s and an old pair of rubber boots made the Santa look pretty good from a distance.
The firefighters painted a an old 35′ extension ladder that was hoisted up onto the roof and placed against the tower. In the photo, you can just about make out Santa at the top of the ladder. If it didn’t rain too much, Santa looked very good through the whole Christmas season.
In the following years, the firefighters really got into it. They outlined the the whole station including the tower; put candles in the windows; created stockings on the tower and and created a Disney-type fire engine on the lower roof. The Firefighters’ Relief Association bought a lifesize fiberglass Santa and firefighter Val Mattogno motorized his arm so that he could wave at you. The firefighters, who owned the whole display made a deal with the Selectmen. If they would buy the replacement bulbs when necessary, the firefighters would decorate the Police Station tree for them.
This display went on for years and provided much enjoyment for the kids young and old!
This piece is based on a previous article from the Stoneham Independent from many Christmases ago.