Richmond Heights police in Ohio sought to lift the spirits of residents during the coronavirus pandemic Sunday with a "rolling Christmas carol."
Piloting a police SUV decked out in Christmas decorations, with the Grinch locked up in back to show he meant serious holiday cheer, Richmond Heights Auxiliary Police Capt. Mark Hoageson drove around his city's streets, jingling all the way. His wife Mary Prince joined him, dressed as an elf, and blasted Christmas music through the vehicle's public address system, Cleveland.com reports.
Civilians of all ages greeted the SUV with glad hearts.
"We thought we were rock stars," said Hoageson, a 31-year veteran of the force. "We'd go down a street and people would come outside to wave or dance to the music. Some people followed us and wanted pictures with us."
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The idea for A Rolling Christmas Carol was conceived just three days earlier when RHPD Chief Thomas Wetzel asked Hoageson if he would take to the streets to helm the cheery cherry top. Hoageson drove one of two cars on Halloween that also went down streets to greet residents. The idea was to repeat the success of Halloween, but with just one police vehicle in order to reduce contact with residents as COVID cases continue to rise during this unusual holiday season. The plan was quickly posted on the RHPD Facebook page.
As the car proceeded through different neighborhoods, about 15 songs were rotated. "We tried to make the music appropriate to where we were," Hoageson said. "When we went past the assisted living facilities, we'd maybe be playing Bing Crosby singing 'White Christmas,' and in other neighborhoods, things a little more upbeat."
Wetzel thanked Hoageson and Prince for their efforts in making a success of A Rolling Christmas Carol.
"It definitely was a unique approach at community outreach," Wetzel said of the event, "but we like to think outside the box here. Besides that, our agency is like community policing on steroids, and this was a neat way to spread some holiday cheer, particularly during this COVID crisis, which is still a daily threat.
"Mark and his wife drove together and worked their way from the south side of the city, to the north. Capt. Hoageson is a techie kind of guy and rigged the sound system to play over the cruiser PA system. And it was loud and strong. When we were driving through our apartments on the north end, you could see people looking out their windows and checking things out."
According to a Facebook post from the Richmond Heights Police Department, Hoageson and his wife purchased all the decorations for the SUV themselves and volunteered their own time to take a tour around the city, bringing a little bit of Christmas to everyone who lives there.
Richmond Heights Mayor David Roche and his wife Aire joined the SUV, along with another police car and Police Chief Thomas Wetzel in his own car in what became a small four-hour Christmas parade.