HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. — Editor's note: The video accompanying this story features a schedule of Santa's appearances at central Indiana shopping centers.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last Christmas, central Indiana fire departments improvised to bring Santa Claus to their neighborhoods by putting the jolly one on a fire truck and driving him on nightly tours.
Now that even kids 5 and over are able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and visit Santa at a closer distance with reduced risk, fire departments are continuing their neighborhood tours.
In Carmel, the fire department added routes to include senior care facilities and improved the online tracking system.
Routes will start Sunday, Nov. 28 and run on a preset schedule on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
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On Thursday, Noblesville announced the return of its “Home for the Holidays Tour” featuring Santa Claus.
“The pandemic made us be creative and shift our plans to keep the holiday spirit alive," said Mayor Chris Jensen as part of the announcement. "What we saw were larger crowds of enthusiastic residents that really enjoyed the new format. Because of the numbers we saw, and the ability to thank our first responders and essential city workers, I decided to have the neighborhood tour once again this year.”
Starting Saturday, Dec. 4, Santa Claus will be joined by several city departments including the police, fire, street, engineering, utilities and parks vehicles as they make their way through Noblesville neighborhoods over the course of two weekends in December.
Jensen said he saw grandparents FaceTiming the 2020 parades with family members, young children displaying homemade signs and outdoor parties with neighbors around a fire pit.
The city has created six Saturday and Sunday routes that cover the areas across Noblesville between Dec. 4 and Dec. 12.
Route dates and times
Yellow Route – 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4
Red Route – 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 5
Blue Route – 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5
Orange Route – 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 11
Pink Route – 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11
Green Route – 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12
Residents interested in learning more about the Home for the Holidays Tour routes may visit
Noblesville also added a special mailbox at its Christmas Cottage and Santa will be checking all of the letters dropped off by children with their holiday wishes.