A SWAT team brings Christmas cheer to Casino Road

Officers dressed in tactical gear and reindeer antlers shared presents with 150 children.

EVERETT — They waited for the doors of an imposing armored truck to open. On Friday, the monstrous vehicle was strung with colorful lights, and Christmas gifts were piled inside.

Kids and their families filled the parking lot at the Casino Road Boys & Girls Club. A line stretched down the street. Officers dressed in SWAT gear and reindeer antlers shared presents with 150 children.

They were all members of the Region One SWAT team, which is made up of Everett police officers and Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Martin came up with the idea during SWAT training Thursday.

More than 35 officers pooled their money and stocked bags with stickers, glow sticks and candy canes.

Oftentimes when the team is working in the community, it’s a worst-case scenario. “We want people to know that we are here to protect them,” Martin said.

Word of the event spread fast around the Casino Road neighborhood.

The Boys & Girls Club offered to host the gathering and made posters inviting families. When police arrived, there were about 75 kids in the parking lot.

Phoenix Maier, 3, was among them.

He and his mother, Rose, bundled up in warm coats and walked to the gathering. They live just a few blocks away. Phoenix was wearing one of the officers’ festive elf hats. He hopes to be a police officer one day. Either that or a dad, he said.

The gift bags ran out quickly, but families didn’t seem to mind.

Kids stood next to the officers and had their picture taken. A little boy walked up to Martin just for a hug.

“We just came to see you guys,” one person said.

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins@heraldnet.com.

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