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Decades old Christmas tradition returns to Neenah and Menasha

Neenah-Menasha Santa float
Posted at 11:35 AM, Dec 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-02 13:15:00-05

MENASHA (NBC 26) — Thursday night in Menasha, residents gathered ‘round the city Christmas tree for plenty of holiday festivities.

"Well, I'm here to see Santa and to see the lighting of the tree,” said Carter Anderson, a young Menasha Resident.

Residents watched Mayor Merkes light up Menasha, and there was a visit from an old Christmas tradition: the fire department Santa float.

The Neenah-Menasha Fire Department's Santa float has been doing this holiday tour since 1950.

"It means so much to us to be able to provide the community with some enjoyment and happiness throughout the holiday season,” said Anthony Leiton, Neenah-Menasha Fire Captain.

The Santa float travels around the cities for 10 days leading up to Christmas each year. They spend five nights in Neenah and five nights in Menasha.

"I saw it three times. This was my third time,” said a young Menasha resident.

"Usually, us and our neighbors would go to the curb and wave,” said Anderson.

To make it easier for residents to see the storied float, you can even track it with this QR code or by visiting

The float is run by fire department volunteers each year and keeping this decades-old tradition alive is important to the department.

"It's important that we provide a good service, that it's structured well, organized well, also, that we keep updating it. That's part of the reason why we have our new campaign going on to update the entire trailer,” said Leiton.

The department is now reaching out to the community for donations to build a new float for next year's holiday season.

They're hoping that people will give back to the tradition that for years, has been giving back to them.

You can donate to the Santa float through this gofundme.