NEW MILFORD — Early on a recent Sunday morning, a fire truck from Water Witch Hose Company No. 2 pulled into Eden Lane with its lights flashing and horn beeping. Dogs in the neighborhood barked loudly and neighbors hurried out to see what was on fire.

It was the Santa Express, bringing some holiday spirit to a group of four children. It was one of 40 stops made that day around town, during what has become an annual event for the fire department and its many volunteers.

Santa (aka Ron Peet) with a very natural white beard and a bright red suit and boots, was the first man on the ground to hand out presents to each of the children: Colton McVeigh, 18 months, his brother Ryan, 6, Johnna Morse, 2, and Liam Servoss, 6.

Johnna clutched her present and sat beaming in the passenger seat in the fire truck, under the watchful eye of firefighter Jeff Emmons.

Firefighter Ed Powers and Seth Castagna joined Santa as he handed out presents to the happy group.

Parents Michele Svendberg, Dave and Melissa McVeigh and Wes Morse watched, then took pictures.

“It’s such a nice thing that they do every year,” Melissa McVeigh said, as she watched her children with Santa Claus.

The Santa Express was started by a committee of Water Witch Second members as a way to connect with the community during the holiday season. It has been held for about 6 years. Signs promoting the event go up in November, and families must sign up to have the Santa Express visit their home.