Holidays on the Key

Grace Nesbit

In the month of December, an incredible event takes place year after year on the Key Peninsula. On weekend nights, sirens, lights and the faint sound of Christmas fill the surrounding area. Every year since the ‘80s, the Key Peninsula Fire Department and the ‘Santa Sleigh’ have taken to the streets. 

Friday-Sunday, every weekend in December, a parade-like function will visit each neighborhood on the Key. With a lead car making the presence known with sirens and blaring Christmas music.  In addition to fire trucks, Santa is also in tow.  Santa has a sleigh all his own which allows for children of all ages to climb in and have a visit.  Since COVID the fire department has added a lighted engine to the parade.  This addition sometimes is the vehicle which Santa rides on, instead of the sleigh, as Santa rides through Key Peninsula neighborhoods.

When it first started, a sleigh was made for Santa with wooden reindeer that appeared to be in flight.  There was even Rudolph with a glowing red nose. It’s not just Santa. Mrs. Clause also takes part in the journey. 

In 2009 Anne Nesbit took over the sleigh and re-routed the maps to cover almost all of the Peninsula, hitting every big neighborhood and every crowded street. The effort was to cover all areas of the Peninsula in some fashion.  Even if community members don’t live in an official “neighborhood” they can still see Santa and his elves as the parade drives down the street.

“My favorite part of the sleigh is the reaction and the joy on the faces of the citizens. The sleigh passes everyone… the adults are just as excited as the kids,” she stated. 

“It is obvious that this has an amazing impact on the community”, she also said; “the heart of the Santa sleigh lies with the Key Peninsula volunteer firefighters.”

 Even throughout COVID, the sleigh still ran, though no sleigh was present. Instead, Santa was in the fire engine, which was covered in hundreds of lights with an inflatable on top. Currently, however, a light-up engine runs with Santa as a passenger. 



All research and sources from Anne Nesbit and KPFD employees.