Officers in Tega Cay will be hauling people downtown by the van load next week.
Then by the clubhouse, through neighborhoods, past parks – pretty much anywhere lights are flashing.
The ninth annual Christmas Guided Light Tour will be 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 16. Guests can meet at the Glennon Center lower level, and police officers will drive them through the city in one of three vans. Officers do ask for a new, unwrapped toy for the Toys for Happiness campaign, but there’s no cost for the ride.
“Just show up, and as soon as a van becomes available, we’ll take them around,” said Lt. Buddy Spence.
Spence and Maj. David Nelson will set out on an unusual patrol Monday night, looking for the brightest displays to visit with guests next evening. The tour will have “a little bit of crime-prevention as well,” Spence said, with gentle reminders of how to keep homes safe at the holidays. But mostly the event is social, with hot chocolate and cookies waiting for guests to arrive.
“We’re trying to get a hold of Santa Claus to see if he can be there for a little while,” Spence said.
Holiday spirit from the light tour could extend beyond Tega Cay. United Way of York County partners with the Herald’s Empty Stocking Fund and WRHI’s Toys for Happiness program, among others. Local children have been receiving toys through these and related programs for more than 25 years. All donations stay local. “It’s just for York County,” said Rebecca Melton, United Way of York County president.
With school districts and others helping, a growing number of children up to age 14 will receive gifts this year. Melton arrived at her Rock Hill office Monday with plans to tally that number.
“The last day of applications was last Friday,” she said. “We’re anticipating around 2,000 children.”
Tega Cay has drop boxes at the Police Department and City Hall. Collections run through Dec. 19.
Public servants in Tega Cay spend a fair amount of time celebrating the season. On Dec. 20, Santa will ride in a firetruck past every home in the city sometime between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Spence, whose department received recognition earlier this year for maintaining a safe city, said opportunities like the light tour are important. A good relationship with community members is important before, during and after a service call, he said.
Or maybe even instead of ever receiving one. “We take great pride in that,” Spence said. “We have a great relationship with our community and work hard to meet their needs.”