Funds propel Santa through Paso

Donations have once again allowed the Paso Robles Police Department to lead Santa Claus through local neighborhoods — a 12-year tradition that would otherwise be canceled because of city budget cuts.

Officers follow Santa’s sleigh around town in their patrol cars, alerting locals of his arrival by turning on their sirens. The jolly old elf stops every few blocks so children can approach his sleigh and receive candy.

The Police Department canceled the $5,000 event in 2008 and relied on last-minute donations in 2009 and again this year to keep it going.

“We have to make every dollar count and focus expenditures on mission-critical priorities,” Paso Robles police Chief Lisa Solomon said in a statement. “It is great to have community partners again this year to help us carry on this great tradition.”

This year, upon hearing the event could be canceled, local software company IQMS donated $1,000 to the department. The same firm contributed $1,200 in 2009, the largest donation of several donors to save the event.

The IQMS donation will be paired with a $4,000 contribution from the Paso Robles Police Activities League, the local chapter of a state nonprofit group that benefits youth.

The sleigh event is costly because it covers officers’ overtime, fuel, a generator and other expenses, police said.

Look for Santa

Santa will ride his sleigh through various neighborhoods from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, stopping every few blocks to give youngsters a piece of candy. Police will turn on their vehicle sirens as they escort Santa.

Reach Tonya Strickland at 781-7858. Stay updated by following @tstrickland on Twitter.

Santa's schedule