Firefighters host annual toy giveaway

Fire Sub-Officer Randy Rankin, left, mans the cotton candy machine at the annual toy giveaway held on Saturday. - PHOTO: MARK MUCKENFUSS

Grand Cayman’s Airport Park was filled with children, parents, firefighters and motorcycle enthusiasts on Saturday, Dec. 16, as the Cayman Islands Fire Service hosted its annual picnic and toy giveaway. This year, for the first time, the fire agency was assisted by the Cayman Islands Motorcycle Riders Association.

“One of our co-workers was a member of CIMRA,” said fire sub-officer Ricardo Charlton, who was directing the event. “They approached us, we accepted and it’s been a plus ever since. We had the cross-island motorcycle ride last weekend and that went great.”

Each year the firefighters organize a toy drive. Those toys are distributed at the picnic by Santa Claus. This year, with the help of the motorcycle group, Mr. Charlton said donations were about double what they were last year.

He said he does not know when the drive was first held, but it’s been going on “as long as we can remember. It’s been 20-odd years.”

As in recent years, he was expecting about 500 people to show up for hamburgers, snow cones, cotton candy and other food and refreshments.

An inflatable bounce house and slide were set up in the middle of the playground, with some fire vehicles parked at the perimeter.

“The reason we’ve been doing this for so many years is we have so many kids that [because of economic reasons] don’t get to celebrate Christmas,” Mr. Charlton said. “It’s pretty tough on some, you know.”

With the participation of the motorcycle association, he said, they will be able to do more. He’s pleased with the new partnership.

“It’s a really good rapport,” he said. Though this is only the first year, he added, “hopefully it won’t be the last.”