When Winthrop Firefighter Dennis Boudrow was only 12 years old, he rescued an elderly man from a burning
building behind his family’s store in East Boston. It was in that moment that he developed what would become a life-long passion for the fire service.
During his 35-year career on the Winthrop Fire Department, Boudrow has served the people in the town through his heroic efforts, but he is most well-known for his role as Santa’s driver on Christmas Eve. Initially he took on the role as a temporary assignment, but it only took one night to realize that he was the perfect fit to cart Santa around town. On Monday evening, Boudrow kicked off his retirement in a fitting way, driving Santa around on Christmas Eve one final time. The only difference this year was that he was greeted with residents holding up “happy retirement” signs along Santa’s entire route.
“I had no idea about any of this, it was beyond amazing,” said Boudrow, as he was interviewed by Fox 25 News.
There was no shortage of people wishing Boudrow well, as he was presented with cards and gifts along his route.
“I’m still a bundle of emotions right now,” he said. “Last night was amazing, I never expected that in my life. I never did that job for any kind of accolades and I simply loved seeing the faces of both kids and adults throughout the years. I have the perfect vantage point as Santa’s driver. The looks on their faces takes your breath away, that’s what Christmas is for me.”
Boudrow’s passion for fire service was contagious and both of his sons, Doug and Stephen, are Cambridge firefighters today.
“He didn’t just like being a firefighter…he lived it and always needed to be a part of it,” said Stephen Boudrow, who recalls wearing his dad’s fire boots when he was a young boy.
Playing the role of Santa’s driver has become a part of the family’s tradition and both his sons spent several Christmas Eve’s riding in the truck alongside him.
“Growing up, Christmas Eve was my family’s favorite holiday because we got to see my dad drive Santa around Winthrop. He’s helped more people in this town that anyone can imagine. He loved the fire department and driving Santa more than anything and I know he’s going to miss it.”
Boudrow credits the help of his fellow firefighters and longtime Christmas Eve passenger, Captain Richard Schwartz, for making every year successful. The job of driver comes along with a lot of responsibility and Boudrow and his crew have spent several hours prepping the sleigh to make it in prime shape for the annual tradition. This year, before his last spin around town, Boudrow painted the sleigh, rewired the set, added new lighting and updated the speaker system.
As of midnight on Christmas Eve, Boudrow took off his fire boots for the last time and has plans for a relaxing retirement. After working two full-time jobs for several years, having also owned a heating business, he is welcoming the change of pace and he will continue to work his part-time job doing maintenance at Kowloon Restaurant in Saugus.