Shriners Hospital for Children gets a merry visitor

With the help of some local firefighters, a little Christmas magic made it to Shriners Hospital for Children Tuesday, where Santa Claus arrived for an early visit in a fire truck filled with gifts.

“It was fantastic,” said Dennis Costin, a district fire chief and president of the Boston Firefighters Burn Foundation. “They’ll thank us, but we get back 10 times more than anything we give.”

For the past nine years, the foundation, a group of local firefighters who volunteer to help burn victims and their families, has been visiting children at Shriners and distributing gifts to them during the holidays. The firefighters also surprise the children in July for a special Christmas in July event.


On Tuesday, Santa rose to the seventh floor outside the hospital building in a bucket from the Boston Fire Department’s Tower Ladder 3 and waved to the children unable to leave their rooms in the burn unit, Costin said. Santa and his elves then descended from the bucket and met the children and their families inside and handed out presents.

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Santa, who is actually a lieutenant at the Egleston Square station, also gave T-shirts and Christmas ornaments to those in the outpatient clinic and to the hospital’s staff.

The families then met up with the firefighters, who served everyone two enormous cakes and several gallons of ice cream, Costin said. “After the kids get their presents, we then receive a wish list of what they need for their recreation room.”

The foundation also gives families winter clothing, since many of them are from outside the country and are not prepared for New England winters, ­Costin said. Firefighters also visit Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals.

Sarah N. Mattero can be reached at sarah.mattero@