Ohio police bring ‘A Rolling Christmas Carol’ to residents
An ornamented police SUV, complete with a Grinch behind bars, took to the city’s streets with the express purpose of bringing holiday cheer and smiles
RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio — In a twist, on Sunday ( Dec. 20) afternoon, it was the police playing loud music and creating a spectacle. But it’s doubtful that anyone was complaining.
That’s because an ornamented police SUV, complete with a Grinch behind bars in the vehicle’s prisoner-holding area, took to the city’s streets that day with the express purpose of bringing holiday cheer and smiles. “We didn’t make it down every street, but probably 95 percent of the them,” said Richmond Heights Auxiliary Police Capt. Mark Hoageson, who drove the police SUV while his wife, Mary Prince, dressed as an elf, played holiday tunes for all to hear via the vehicles public address system.
Dubbed “A Rolling Christmas Carol,” the SUV was greeted by residents young and not so young as it traveled the street. “We thought we were rock stars,” said Hoageson, who grew up in the city and who has been a Richmond Heights Auxiliary Police member for 31 years. “We’d go down a street and people would come outside to wave or dance to the music. Some people followed us and wanted pictures with us.”
The idea for A Rolling Christmas Carol was conceived just three days earlier when RHPD Chief Thomas Wetzel asked Hoageson if he would take to the streets to helm \n the cheery cherry top. Hoageson drove one of two cars on Halloween that also went down streets to greet residents. The idea was to repeat the success of Halloween, but with just one police vehicle in order to reduce contact with residents as COVID cases continue to rise during this unusual holiday season. The plan was quickly posted on the RHPD Facebook page.
As the car proceeded through different neighborhoods, about 15 songs were rotated. “We tried to make the music appropriate to where we were,” Hoageson said. “When we went past the assisted living facilities, we’d maybe be playing Bing Crosby singing ‘White Christmas,’ and in other neighborhoods, things a little more upbeat.”
Wetzel thanked Hoageson and Prince for their efforts in making a success of A Rolling Christmas Carol.
“It definitely was a unique approach at community outreach,” Wetzel said of the event, “but we like to think outside the box here. Besides that, our agency is like community policing on steroids, and this was a neat way to spread some holiday cheer, particularly during this COVID crisis, which is still a daily threat.
“Mark and his wife drove together and worked their way from the south side of the city, to the north. Capt. Hoageson is a techie kind of guy and rigged the sound system to play over the cruiser PA system. And it was loud and strong. When we were driving through our apartments on the north end, you could see people looking out their windows and checking things out.”
While the RHPD tried to make people aware of the event in advance, Wetzel said, “There were plenty, I’m sure, who were doing double takes when Mark and Mary drove by and scratching their heads with befuddled amusement. I’m sure it was a first for them to see a cruiser decorated that way.
“All in all, it was a COVID-safe way to reach out to our community in a small way and wish them well.”
Also part of the four-hour parade that ended at 8 p.m., driving behind the police SUV, was Mayor David Roche and his wife, Aire. Another police cruiser and Wetzel in his own car also followed.
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