GLADSTONE - Gladstone residents shouldn't be surprised if their homes are visited by a police officer or firefighter riding in a fire truck and offering candy canes this weekend. The visits are part of a tradition being revived by Gladstone Public Safety.
Prior to the mid-90s, Public Safety, the volunteer fire department, and other volunteers would decorate fire trucks and travel the streets of Gladstone on Christmas Eve delivering candy canes to city residents.
"We would go around the community with music playing and our lights going and hand out candy canes to the various houses that had lights on," said Gladstone Public Safety Director Paul Geyer.
This year the revived event will be moved to the Sunday before Christmas. The decorated fire trucks and volunteers will begin delivering candy canes around 6 p.m.
Volunteers and their trucks will be split into two teams. One team of volunteers will visit homes on the east side of the highway and the other will visit homes on the West side.
"We don't want to get just one area of the town. We want to hit the whole town," said Geyer.
Despite being a popular event, it was difficult to gather the volunteers needed to visit every home when the tradition took place on Christmas Eve.
"We moved it to the 23rd so that we could get more involvement from our members without having them sacrifice some of their family time on Christmas Eve," said Geyer.
"This was primarily the reason why we stopped doing it many years ago as we just could not get as many members to take part due to their family and seasonal obligations," he added.
Besides believing the date change will give more people an opportunity to volunteer, Geyer hopes there will be more people in Gladstone visiting their families.
This year the community sharing goes beyond candy canes. Public Safety officers and firefighters will be collecting nonperishable food items for local food banks, which have a difficult time keeping shelves fully stocked during the holiday season.
"We wanted to add the food donation aspect to it and try to do our part to help support food banks," said Geyer, who added it would be easier for volunteers to transport donations if residents put the goods in bags before giving them to police and firefighters.
"There is no obligation to donate anything," said Geyer. "We just want to help spread some Christmas cheer."
The candy cane delivery event may have another positive effect on the children of Gladstone.
"They get to see us in maybe a different light, and they get to see the firemen in their gear, and get a candy cane or two. It's a very nice event," said Geyer.