XMAS IN OLD POMPANO
By Bud Garner
The parking lot just across 4th Ave., where most of us are parked tonight is “HALLOWED GROUND” this is where things I am going to talk about happened, many many years ago and has had a lasting impression on so many people in this town, many of them here tonight.
Each year in POMPANO of old, three notable things occurred.
1 The Halloween carnival held in downtown Pompano at Flagler Ave. on the “old wooden “beanshed” also part of the FEC baggage platform’
2. The annual arrival of the minstrel show “SILAS GREEN from NEW ORLEANS (remember them)
3. The arrival of Santa Clause at the community Christmas tree and party at the Fire station at Christmas time.
(later years included the “BEAN & PEPPER JAMBOREE held at the “new Farmers Market” out West on Hammonville Rd.
The Community Christmas tree and Santa and presents and just good times were looked forward to with much anticipation, especially the “Kids”
This vacant lot across from the fire station and water tank was the site where a large Christmas tree ( a pine tree cut from the woods where the airport is now located) decorated with lights ,tinsel and homemade ornaments made by residents. This was truly a community tree.
The siren on top of the water tank that rose into the sky behind the fire house would let loose with its earsplitting scream and the excitement of kids and parents was electric because that announced the arrival of Santa , riding on our only fire truck (ole 75) the 1926 American La-France Pumper, the same truck that is now being redone by Rob Brantly and others of the 5555 society and curators of the fire museum .
He appeared to be 10 feet tall on the fire truck with its siren going and its big spot light shining into the night sky and his bags of treats for everyone. stacked in the back of the fire truck.
This was the moment of truth, it was decision time for many of the kids, “was Santa real or just a myth”? no time to doubt that now, here he was in all his splendor, his great bushy white beard his red hat and suit with the big white collar, his black shiny boots with the white lining and at the bottom of his red coat. No, this wasn’t the time and place to doubt whether or not he was real. because, here he was, laughing and waving and greeting everyone, (kids and adults alike).
With the stopping of the truck, Santa getting down off his seat and into the huge chair that was brought out for him The mayor of Pompano would give Santa an official welcoming and then, on with the fun.
Santa would take the youngest kids (those that were brave enough to do so) onto his lap and give them a small stocking filled with candy nuts and fruit. And this would continue on until the bigger kids got their turn which was usually a bag of candy and a hand shake and a big smile.
After all had received their presents, Santa would climb back aboard the fire truck, give a big wave a mighty “Ho!Ho! Ho!” and off they would go, down 3rd St., to the railroad tracks, cross Dixie Highway and go West on Hammonville road to one of the Vacant lots on the Westside of town where the boys and girls in that section of town anxiously awaited by their Christmas tree, the arrival of the fire truck, Santa and his bags of gifts. after the welcoming again by the Mayor, the giving of stockings, candy , nuts and fruit began and the same proceedings would then occur.
So went the day preceding Christmas in POMPANO, the big night would find most of the kids going to bed earlier than usual although that meant for a longer night and an earlier awakening on that great morning of mornings.
This was the time all those doubts about Santa was dispelled, this was the proof of the pudding this was proof positive that Santa was truly real and had been true to his word that he would leave something under the tree the family had gone into “the woods’ ( also where the airport is now ), selected very carefully just the right shaped tree, cut it, carried it home and “put it up” . Decorated with cardboard cutouts of stars and angels and balls of different colors dangling by butchers string on the outer branches and home made paper chains cut from strips of paper fastened together with paste made from flour and water as glue and strips of tinfoil that glittered .
On Christmas morning, very soon after daylight, the streets and sidewalks began to come alive with kids roller skating or riding new bicycles or tricycles or scooters or pulling wagons or carrying all manner of neat objects they did not have when they went to bed the night before,
Seems as if every kid in town would eventually be seen by everyone in town as this most special day, Christmas finally came.
Our parents always made it clear to us just what Christmas was and how important it was to a family.
And Oh yes,! Virginia,
‘THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS”:
(This “OLD POMPANO CHRISTMAS STORY” given at the Pompano Beach Historical Society annual Christmas party and program Dec 18th 2002.) BG