Fire trucks light up for the holidays |

Fire trucks light up for the holidays

Adam Jensen
Adam Jensen / Tahoe Daily TribuneSouth Lake Tahoe reserve firefighter Chris Leisey, left, helps Captain Kenin Fairley attach Rudolph to the front of the department's holiday engine Tuesday afternoon.

When it comes to fire trucks, lights are to be expected.

It’s just that they’re typically urging motorists to pull over, not spreading holiday cheer.

But a long-held tradition at the South Shore of firefighters decorating an engine with Christmas lights and holiday accouterments and touring neighborhoods continues to delight residents and firefighters alike.

Holiday engines from South Lake Tahoe Fire Department and Lake Valley Fire Protection District have been making the rounds for about the past week, and will continue through the weekend.

For the city’s fire department, the tradition started about 25 years ago when one staffer got the idea and enlisted the help of members of the firemen’s association to decorate an engine, shift commander Karl Koeppen said. The firefighters received such an enthusiastic response that it continued, gaining steam year after year.

Christmas music played by the engine as it makes rounds through city neighborhoods brings everyone from toddlers to seniors out of the house to get a good look, and there is no lack of enthusiasm among firefighters more than two decades in, Koeppen said.

“We put a lot of time into it,” Koeppen said. “Guys come in from off duty to help decorate it.”

Firefighters volunteer to man the decorated engine, often bringing family members along for the ride, Koeppen said.

It’s a family affair at Lake Valley Fire Protection District as well.

The district picked up the tradition about 10 years ago after seeing other departments lighting up the streets, spokeswoman Leona Allen said. The children of parents at the fire department get into the act, helping pass out candy canes and wishing happy holidays.

She said it gives firefighters the chance to bring the spirit of the season to those who may not be able to get out of the house for other holiday celebrations.

“It’s always the highlight of our season,” Allen said.

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