Santa Claus welcomes children Friday night during a drive-through beside the gazebo behind the Mexico Fire Station. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

MEXICO — Holiday traditions aren’t guaranteed during the pandemic, but the Mexico Firemen’s Relief Association gave it their best shot Friday night with the annual visit from Santa Claus.

A few days ago, Fire Chief Richard Jones believed they were still going to have a Santa Claus parade, with Santa practicing social distancing. However, when he called Police Chief Roy Hodsdon to make sure there would be police coverage, Jones learned state officials prohibited parades of any kind during the pandemic.

Instead, Santa sat upon his sleigh inside the town gazebo, waving and yelling “Merry Christmas” as parents drove by behind the fire station. Meanwhile, several volunteers, masked up and wearing gloves, waited for windows to come down so they could hand out candy, supplied by the Relief Association.

Jones said he understood the reasoning for no parades but he was still frustrated.

“Less than 30 days ago, they did the Halloween event inside the Mexico Recreation Center … This is for the kids, more than anything.”

Town health officer Dave Saphier once again took the lead role for the evening, something he’s been doing in various places for 32 years. Seeing the smiles on children’s faces makes it all worth it, he noted.

The turnout was much less than previous years, a tradition on the day after Thanksgiving to mark the start of the Christmas season.

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