Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Santa NOT Welcome in Murphy, TX

Update: the MFD was able to perform this act of kindness and gift to the kids in Murphy!  Way to go MFD!  Express your gratitude so they'll be out again next year:

    Email the Fire Chief's Office and express gratitude here... drounsavall@murphytx.or


   Well, that might be a bit hyperbolic but there is a community issue that warrants your attention!

One of the neatest traditions in our little town comes at
Christmastime when Santa rides atop the Murphy Fire Department engines and greets kiddos all over town.  It's a fantastic thing for the kids.  Murphy is a city full of children.
Well, a few vocal complainers are ruining it for the silent majority!  After word leaked out that the MFD wasn't doing the Santa thing this year, I contacted the FD and Mayor Barna to see if it was true and how the citizenry could help restore this warm and delightful tradition.

   Mayor Barna was very responsive and highlighted a few challenges and opportunities to get Santa back on the horse... or engine, as it were!  The complete text of the Mayor's email to me is below.
  • The Parade of Santa is a voluntary act of holiday kindness performed by our fine MFD.
  • Those of us who were excited to watch the children wave at Santa on the big, shiny, fire engine didn't know we needed to wave the flag and beat the drum in support of this local tradition.
  • Those few who were eager to ruin it for the majority, found a new target for their whining and without consideration of children, set ablaze a delightful time for little ones rather than allow themselves to be mildly inconvenienced once a year!
  • If Murphy wants a Parade of Santa, we need to voice our support to get it back!
  1. If you want to show your support for the Fire Department's holiday season gift to our kids and community, email the mayor's office and declare your opinion!   ebarna@murphytx.org
  2. The entire city Council can be reached here http://www.murphytx.org/Directory.aspx?DID=5
  3. Email the Fire Chief's Office and express gratitude here... drounsavall@murphytx.org

Mr. Oden,

Thank you again for your email.

The Parade of Santa was originally dreamed up by our Fire Department and uses the on-duty crew. The idea came about as a way to give back to the community. The Fire Department has done this for a number of years and over the years the event has changed due to feedback received. The Parade of Santa started by traveling down every street in Murphy and would take a couple of weeks to complete. If a call was received during the Parade, Santa and his helpers would have to tend to the call. It was a very busy time for our Fire Department. Over the years the Parade of Santa became an abbreviated version in which a selected number of street were visited and a date and time schedule was produced. Last year the Parade of Santa only visited Murphy parks. The families who live close to Murphy parks still thought the Parade visited all streets in Murphy.

Over the years the Parade of Santa has produced feedback. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of feedback had been negative. Everything from waking sleeping babies to scaring residents in their homes. The Fire Department, in hopes of saving the Parade of Santa made adjustments over the years to find a good balance. Those who looked forward to the annual Parade of Santa failed to provide feedback to our Fire Department. As such a minority of opinion became a majority of opinion.

Our Fire Department does this on their own using their own budget to produce the Parade. They aren't on order to provide this Parade and do this because they feel in their hearts they want to do this. I can understand their concerns with the feedback they received over the years. If the feedback was more balanced they probably could see what you and I know - the majority of residents appreciate the time and effort given by our Fire Department in areas other than keeping us safe in Murphy.

The Fire Department isn't trying to play Grinch this year but trying to balance the desires of many Murphy residents and their own time and effort. I can't think of many people who will continually provide something when the majority of feedback is negative, no matter how small the feedback. The men and women of the Murphy Fire Department aren't elected officials. They are staff members who are actually going above and beyond to provide a little more Christmas joy to our residents.

I'm currently down in Houston with a family emergency but will return next weekend. I will meet with the Fire Chief and City Manager as soon as I can in an attempt to reach a compromise which will allow the Parade of Santa to continue. But, please realize this event is not a budgeted expense and done through the hearts and goodness of the men and women of the Murphy Fire Department. Positive feedback is very important to keep events like this continuing in Murphy.

Warm Regards,
Mayor Eric Barna