EXETER TOWNSHIP — Exeter Township’s 2019 Santa Tour involves about 16 hours to conduct and months to prepare for. But for the staff who make the tour possible, the rewards are countless, according to Laurie Getz, director of communication and community involvement for the township.

“Our staff looks forward to the holiday activities all year,” Getz said. “They probably spend upwards of 25 hours in the week of the Santa Tour after having worked a full regular day,” she said. “And that doesn’t count the months of planning to determine the routes, and prepare the sleigh and trailer.”

This year Exeter Highway Superintendent Clarence Hamm built a new sleigh.

“We had been borrowing a sleigh from Clarence’s family for several years,” Getz said, adding that Hamm takes a lot of pride in the trailer and the tour. “He dedicates a lot of his personal time working on it to make it the best it can be. I think he really just wanted us to have a nice sleigh that we can continue to use for years to come.”

Managing the 35-mile-a-night tour (about 140 miles total) takes about 30 people, including highway department staff, police and fire department staff and volunteers such as Exeter High School students who hand out candy canes from pick-up trucks that accompany Santa’s sleigh.

Mike Fritz has been volunteering as Santa for 15 years. In addition to riding his sleigh for the tour, he also attends the Festival of Lights for Exeter children at the Reading Country Club (this past Saturday). All is volunteer time. A special part of the tour is his visit children who are experiencing difficulties due to illness or family finances. (The township works with the school district to identify the children.) “You couldn’t write me a check big enough to equal what I get out of doing this for the kids,” Fritz said.

Exeter Santa Tour by the Numbers

16 – Total hours the tour lasts

25 - Total hours staff needs to prepare

30 - Number of staff, volunteers and supporters

20 - Hours Santa needs to prepare and conduct the tour

140 – Total miles of the tour (35 miles/night)

Santa Tour dates: 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 11, 12, 16 and 17.

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