12/21/2000

West Chicago police wreath will remain
blue if drivers are safe this month
[West Chicago, IL]

Jake Griffin Daily Herald Staff Writer
December 1, 2000, Friday, DuPage
Copyright 2000 Paddock Publications, Inc.
Chicago Daily Herald
December 1, 2000, Friday, DuPage

(WEST CHICAGO, Ill.) -- If all goes well for West Chicago police officers this holiday season, it will be a blue Christmas. The burg's boys in blue want to keep their 6-foot wreath bathed in cerulean lights that signify no fatal crashes during the month of December. If there is a fatality, one of the blue bulbs in the wreath will be exchanged for a white one, said Officer John McCall. "And if the fatality involves drugged or drunk driving we'll put in a red bulb." McCall said the department has taken a page from its fire fighting brethren who also hang a mono-colored lit wreath at two stations in town. "Leave it to the police to make theirs bigger," Fire Chief William Harper said. "Ours are only about 3-feet round." At the fire station a red light is changed out to a white light if a fire is caused by holiday decorations. In the 15-year history of the fire department tradition, only two lights have ever been changed to white. This is the first year for the police department's program. "The most memorable time was when a woman was wrapping presents in her home next to a fire in her fireplace that was going so good it caught the decorations hanging above the mantle," Harper said. "And the present she was wrapping was a fire extinguisher." The other holiday fire occurred during another year and was caused by faulty wiring on tree lights. Harper said the wreath is there to remind everyone to be safe during the holidays. "I don't even know if we have a white light or not," he said. "If we do have a fire we'd probably have to go out and buy one." If good fortune holds, the police department won't have to worry about changing lights at all. No one has died in the 222 traffic accidents during the past two Decembers, although 26 people were injured, Sgt. Don Goncher said. McCall and Harper both said their departments endorse the campaigns that seem somewhat macabre. "I get people who ask from time to time if we've had to put in a white light," Harper said. "We've never had a fire caused by decorations that's taken someone's life, knock on wood."

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