Unusual give the time of year, Santa was of very little interest to most of the attendees although his presence did serve to keep them all on their very best behavior. Eyes glistened not with thoughts of gifts and reindeer but with the reflection of the flashing lights on the engine and a fine glaze of excitement heightened by the pure corn syrup candy canes all children were eating.
About every 5 minutes or so, a fire engine would pull through, pick up a new batch of children mixed with adults (who are really just over-sized children) and make a quick trip around the neighborhood. Very odd for children standing in line, there was no pushing, hustling, or complaining ... just an awed stare every time a new fire truck pushed through.
Once Helios and Hesperos got on board, the true shock-and-awe of the experience really hit them. Hesperos stared at it all in blue-eyed wonder (looking a little bit like Violet Beauregarde from Willie Wonka pre-blueberry juice squeeze due to his too-big winter jacket). Helios was barely restrained hysteria (in that way where he was perfectly behaved but we were waiting for the snap -- which never came!).
In spite of going on roads that Mommy and Daddy had only driven on once before, Helios' sense of direction and observation were powerful enough to know exactly where he was as he shouted, "we're behind our house!" or "turn right to go back to the fire station!" At one point, we asked Helios if he were happy and we were met with an ear-to-ear grin of "Oh, yeah! WOW!" leaving us to wonder if a fire truck is serious competition for a train.
The fire truck ride concluded with a quick chat with one of the real fire fighters and a gift of fire hats for each boy. Hesperos wore his with style and flair, tipping it as though he were a Victorian gentleman wearing a bowler hat.
Helios wore his later, when he was stripped down naked and ready for his bath. Were Mommy a less kind mommy, she would have taken a picture to remind Helios of that moment, to be presented at some future time when it could be most embarrassing, with a headline like "Chippendale In Training." But Mommy isn't nearly so cruel...plus no camera was handy.