© St. Petersburg Times, published December 9, 2001
For the fourth year, volunteers from East Lake Fire & Rescue are helping Santa Claus deliver presents to East Lake children on the department's antique fire truck.
The program began Nov. 27 and runs though Dec. 21. Santa Claus, firefighters and other volunteers will be on the truck, which travels every week night to East Lake neighborhoods delivering wrapped toys provided by parents.
"We'll probably see close to 1,000 kids this year," said Lt. Scott McLain, who is coordinating the program.
The antique fire truck is what differentiates this program from others, said District Chief Steve Rogers.
"People love it," he said.
In June 1997, the department purchased the 1961 American LaFrance from Middletown Fire Company in Bortondale, Penn.
The antique truck is primarily used during fire prevention month to take elementary school students to the fire station for presentations and tours. It also is used for birthday parties, parades and special events.
The Santa program is free to East Lake residents, but donations are accepted, McLain said. Proceeds go to the upkeep of the antique truck.
Unfortunately for parents who haven't already signed up, Santa Claus' schedule is completely booked for this year, McLain said.
But volunteers are still needed.
An activity featuring Santa Claus is being scheduled at Station No. 57 sometime before Christmas for those who couldn't sign up for the present delivery. Call (727) 784-7924.
The Tarpon Springs Middle School choirs will present a holiday concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the school, 501 N Florida Ave., in Tarpon Springs. Many of the school's students live in East Lake.
The choirs will perform traditional holiday favorite songs under the direction of Sandi Zielepuza. Admission is free.
The choirs also will perform over the holidays at local nursing homes, Tampa International Airport, East Lake and Tarpon Springs high schools and other locations. For dates and times, call (727) 943-4688.
East Lake Little League is now holding registration for the spring 2002 season. The next registration opportunity is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the East Lake Community Library, 4125 East Lake Road.
Fees are $150 per player with family discounts available. New players are required to provide proof of age and residency.
The final registration for the season will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 5. All games take place at the Upper Pinellas Youth Sports Complex, which will soon be called the East Lake Youth Sports Complex. The complex is located off Old Keystone Road.
Call (727) 934-1180.
The Vincent Reid Foundation will host a fundraising wine fest at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Proceeds will support a student golf scholarship.
The Vincent Reid Foundation sponsors golf classes for disabled children and young people age 6 to 22. There is no charge for students to attend the classes, which are at the East Lake Woodlands Country Club.
The event will be at the home of Dick and Marcy Isel. The cost is $25 and reservations are required. To receive an invitation, call Cary Stiff at (727) 781-2234.
Austin Walker was named East Lake 2000 Citizen of the Month from Brooker Creek Elementary School for November.
Austin, 7, is the son of Walter and Elizabeth Walker of Lansbrook. He is in Sue Kelly and Joan Kern's first-grade class.
Austin enjoys soccer and baseball, and he sings in his church choir. He was nominated by Janell Crim.
"Austin is always ready to lend a helping hand," Crim said. "He is not afraid to work and seems to enjoy everything he does."
Jillian Green was named Oldsmar/East Lake Rotary Student of the Month from Brooker Creek Elementary for November.
Jillian, 9, is the daughter of Kevin and Leigh Ann Green, who live in Woodfield. She is in Eileen Biegel's fourth grade class.
Jillian is involved in chorus and cheerleading and recently helped raise money for needy families for her church.
"Jillian is a role model in our classroom," Biegel said in her nomination. "She has excellent work habits and is always willing to help others."
-- If you have news or photos about East Lake schools, churches, businesses, neighborhood groups, community organizations or people, contact Julie Church at the North Pinellas Times. You can call her at (727) 445-4229, fax material to her at (727) 445-4206, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or mail material to North Pinellas Times, 34342 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor, FL 34684.