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Rohnert Park public safety chief plays Santa

  • A beard-bedecked Rohnert Park Public Safety Director Brian Masterson gives a toy to a young visitor Saturday. (Raquel Kilmartin)

Rohnert Park Public Safety Director Brian Masterson on Saturday donned a scarlet Santa Claus suit, complete with white gloves and curly white beard, to brighten the holidays for about 760 children.

Seated in a trailer-mounted sleigh in front of the Public Safety Building, Masterson greeted local kids who had registered for gifts from the Rohnert Park Public Safety Officers Association's annual toy drive.

The director was filling in for Officer Dean Becker, who has played the role of Santa for 19 of the previous 20 years of the campaign.

Becker was on duty Saturday and unavailable for the role of St. Nick during the toy giveaway.

Students at Rohnert Park schools can apply for gifts, and this year's recipients came from 322 families, said Sgt. Jeff Nicks, president of the safety officers association.

“We don't turn anybody down,” Sgt. Brandon Davidge said. “If you say you have a need, we fill it.”

Starting in early December, the truck-drawn sleigh with Becker on board cruises the neighborhoods of Rohnert Park, collecting donated toys. Donations also are collected in bins placed at local businesses.

On Friday night, members of Girl Scout Troop 10234 helped sort and package the toys.

Details on the toy drive are posted on the Public Safety Officers Association Facebook page.

“We loved the Santa sleigh and fun ... thank u,” Jasmine Hensley posted on the page Saturday. “We look forward to next year, now that we know about your fundraiser!”

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.

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