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Santa is replacing his sleigh with a fire truck for one northern Illinois community.

Cortland Fire Department

Santa Clauses are popping up across northern Illinois. And this Saturday, Dec. 11, families are invited to join Saint Nick for a pasta treat at the Cortland Fire Station.

The station has done this event for a few years.

Melanie Wright, a lieutenant paramedic with the fire department, said the station came up with “Spaghetti with Santa” because they wanted to give back to the community.

“We wanted a way for kids to see Santa and him not be behind, like plexiglass,” she said. “So as long as they have a mask on, they could sit next to him still talk to him. But we're still taking those precautions to keep people safe.”

She said the station normally does fundraisers throughout the year but a few years ago, they switched things up by serving spaghetti.

“So, we decided instead of doing another fundraiser at Christmas time,” she explained, “we do an event where we can give back, bring the community together and provide a free meal for the members of our community.”

A parade will take place from 3 p.m. until 4 p.m. Then children will speak with Santa before they chow down on spaghetti and other treats. The evening concludes at 7 p.m. The meal is free, but the fire station is accepting donations.

Visit the Cortland Fire Station Facebook page for a parade map and other information.

Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.