For more than 60 years, the Coronado Fire Department has assisted members of the Rotary Club of Coronado with a program that enlisted its staff and firefighters, and at times a City fire engine, to deliver Christmas presents to local children on Christmas Eve.
Rotary Santa has been a tradition for many generations of Coronado residents and the City of Coronado has been pleased to be a part. However, over the years, laws, regulations, rules, expectations, and conditions have changed. The fashion in which the Rotary Santa program has evolved required City employees to collect, catalog, secure, store, and account for wrapped Christmas presents. Although most employees performed these tasks willingly, the duties associated with the Rotary Santa program were above and beyond the scope of work for Fire Department employees and are not included in any Civil Service Commission-approved job description. While collecting and housing the gifts, the Fire Station became the temporary home to wrapped packages of unknown origin, raising security and liability concerns. On Christmas Eve, the alarm can ring at any time requiring the Fire Department to jump into action and forcing the volunteer Santas to exit the Fire Station and wait until the on-duty firefighters returned before resuming loading the presents for delivery.
To allow the Fire Department and its firefighter/paramedics to focus on their core mission, Rotary was advised a year ago that other arrangements would need to be made. The City offered free space in the Golf Course parking lot to house a storage container and the City also made available at no cost the Boathouse Club Room before Christmas to sort and load the presents for delivery. However, Rotary found a better alternative. The City is pleased that Rotary will continue the tradition of dressing up as Santa Claus and delivering gifts to Coronado families on December 24.
Coronado continues to support many community Christmas programs. The Fire Department and other City facilities will receive unwrapped presents in bins for several Christmas-related causes. In these cases, the gifts are unwrapped, staff involvement is minimal, and the expectation of custodial care is very low.