When Santa Claus arrives in the resort next week for an annual fundraiser hosted by the Whistler Professional Firefighters Association, you can be sure he'll be riding in style.
That's because the jolly elf's sleigh will be perched atop a decked-out, vintage 1974 Tibault fire truck with deep roots in the resort.
"Our antique fire truck was actually Whistler's first dedicated fire truck," explained Brian Buchholz with the Whistler Fire Rescue Service. "The truck itself is a real eye-catcher, and then Santa's sleigh is sitting on top of it."
St. Nick is making his way from the North Pole to help Whistler's firefighters spread some holiday cheer while collecting donations for the BC Professional Fire Fighters Association's Burn Fund, dedicated to providing greater care and treatment for those who've suffered life-altering burns. The public will have a chance to sit on Santa's lap and snap a photo with him for a donation to the fund. (Cameras not provided.) The goal this year is to raise $5,000, which will go towards burn prevention, education, care and research.
"It's a big goal," said Buchholz. "We usually raise in the range of $2,000 and $3,000, but we haven't been as proactive in letting people know that we're doing (the event) in the past."
The Whistler Fire Rescue Service has long been active in supporting burn victims. The department helps staff a summer camp in Squamish each year with about 80 young burn victims from across Western Canada in attendance.
"That's the benefit that hits closest to home," Buchholz said.
Local firefighters also continue to raise funds for the Burn Fund Centre in Burnaby, slated to open in March, which will offer short-term accommodation for burn and trauma survivors to recover free of charge outside of a hospital setting.
The 13th annual Santa's Sleigh and Burn Fund Boot Drive will run from 2 to 5 p.m. on both Dec. 12 and 19 in Mountain Square.