PAPD brings holiday cheer to residents

Port Arthur Blue Santa bringing gifts to families affected by Harvey

After going through some of the worst of Harvey’s unprecedented flooding, the Port Arthur Police Department tried to bring a little Christmas cheer with Blue Santa Dec. 22.

A long line formed outside The Department Club on Lakeshore Drive near Lamar State College-Port Arthur where Port Arthur Police Department (PAPD) officers and volunteers were handing out gifts inside. A volunteer stood outside, letting in just a few families at a time.

Some of the families were leaving in tears of joy, but the kids rolling away on brand new bicycles were grinning from ear to ear.

Detective Jonathan Green said that the PAPD received about 200 applications this year, averaging 3-4 kids on each application — about 600 kids total.

“What makes this thing work is the volunteers and the donors,” Green said.

Detective Mike Hebert said this is the department’s 24th year doing Blue Santa.

“This year was very difficult for us and our citizens,” Hebert said, adding that many applications this time showed dire need. “This was much more serious of a Blue Santa.”

He said that there’s not really a way to find closure after the floods, but he said he thinks that holiday festivities can help heal a community.

Hebert enjoys events like this, he said.

“We get to be peace officers tonight — no violence, disturbances, wrecks,” he said. “We love it.”

Chief Patrick Melvin called Blue Santa an “awesome program.”

“It’s great that we can be a part of so many smiles,” Melvin added. “This is a year that Blue Santa is touching so many more hearts.”