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Zoneton fire truck decked out for Santa's ride in honor of chief battling COVID, cancer

This Christmas, Zoneton firefighters will be missing an important part of their department as they ride through the city streets for the annual Santa run.

BULLITT COUNTY, Ky. — One of the most anticipated holiday events hosted by the Zoneton Fire Protection District started on Thursday, December 3. 

Over at Fire Station 2, you'll find firefighters stringing close to 90,000 lights along one of their ladder trucks to carry Santa and his elves through local neighborhoods. See schedule here: https://bit.ly/39LiZKq 

See the schedule here.

Capt. Steven Corbin is the brains behind the display, saying COVID-19 has forced the department to make changes this year. Santa will stay on the truck from start to finish, without stepping off for photos, however, he promises there will be plenty of Christmas cheer.

"I have the best job in the world," Corbin said. "I get to drive Santa and his elves around, so I get to see first-hand, the smiles, the jumping up and down, and not just kids, the parents.  A lot of times, you'll see the parents push the kids out of the way so they can get up there, too. So, it brings joy to young and old and puts a smile on my face. It makes it worth it."  

"It feels good to watch everybody, from every age get that Christmas spirit," Zoneton's Fire Marshal Kevin Moulton said. "And this year, it means so much more for the department and hopefully the community."

This Christmas, though, the crew will be missing an important part of their department.

Credit: Zoneton Fire
Zoneton Fire Chief Rob Orkies

Fire Chief Rob Orkies is in the hospital, fighting for his life with COVID-19, and late stage cancer of the neck. He was diagnosed with cancer in late September and within weeks was hospitalized with the coronavirus. His wife, Jo, updates his crew daily, most recently sharing that Orkies remains on a ventilator.

Fire departments from around the country have sent in well wishes and photos showing the support for the Chief, whose radio call number is 8101.

The chief's been Santa's biggest helper since the truck's decorations went up 23 years ago. This year, it'll be decked out in the chief's favorite colors, red and white, which happen to be the colors representing his cancer battle. The truck will also display a hint of green, to bring attention to everyone fighting COVID.

Santa will hit the streets on Thursday, December 3. You can find the full schedule here.

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