A retired truck driver, Mark Hoffman, would have never guessed that after leading the New Hamburg Santa Claus Parade, and collecting donations for the local food bank, that he would be fined $1,005.
Hoffman was ticketed by a Waterloo Regional Police officer. The officer gave Hoffman 6 different tickets for safety insurance infractions under the Highway Traffic Act, according to CBC.
“The kicker at the end, he said to me, ‘Well, you know, this is a first for me. I’ve never inspected a truck decorated out for a Christmas parade,'” Hoffman said about the officer.
“I thought to myself: I don’t know what kind of upbringing you had, but I’m glad I don’t hang around with you, Mr. Grinch.”
Annual holiday tradition
Hoffman has been leading the New Hamburg Santa Claus Parade for the last 15 years with his decorated truck. This year, the parade took place on December 3, 2017.
Prior to being ticketed, Hoffman’s daughter noticed that officers were taking a closer look at his dump truck just before the parade began. None of the officers said anything to Hoffman or his daughter before the parade; therefore, Hoffman completed the parade route collecting food donations.
After the festivities were over, Hoffman made his way to the food bank near Wilmot Family Resource Centre. As he drove, he noticed the police following him.
Once Hoffman arrived at the drop location, the officer asked Hoffman to pull the truck into a parking lot after he was done unloading the food bank donations.
“The safety has been expired for two years,” Hoffman admitted but said he’s a licensed truck mechanic and assured the officer that the vehicle was absolutely safe. Hoffman no longer uses the dump truck for work in the area, but instead uses the truck on his own rural property.
The officer then handed him 6 tickets.
“This officer would have been fully in his rights if I would have had some gravel in the back of the truck and had an excavation unit on the trailer and I would have been going to dig out somebody’s trailer,” Hoffman explained.
“The truck was totally decked out … for the Christmas parade with a collection box on the back.”
A real-life Grinch
Waterloo Regional Police Insp. Michael Haffner said police applaud the holiday work that Hoffman does in the community every year, but “his volunteerism has really nothing to do with the situation.”
The officers battled with a number of concerns with the truck. The officer stated that regardless of the purpose of use, the truck needs to comply with the standards set under the Highway Traffic Act for commercial vehicles once it leaves Hoffman’s property.
“Everyone is responsible that the vehicle that they’re operating is safe, it’s roadworthy,” Haffner said.
“In this case, the officer used discretion and did charge this driver with six infractions; however, in addition, did provide a number of examples of education as well.”
Haffner added he’s glad the story ends with a driver just getting tickets and not something worse, according to CBC.
“I’m glad we’re not talking about a tragic fatality out on a rural road, the unfortunate death of a child at the parade or even the driver of this dump truck … the tragic death of him because of his unsafe vehicle,” he said.
Hoffman thinks that if police were that worried about the safety of the truck, they should have cited him before the parade and not allowed the parade or the donations to be driven to the food bank in that vehicle.
“To me, that’s a joke because when it’s totally decorated — we have a Christmas tree, we have stuffed animals … I don’t drive any more than 20-25 km/h all the way up to New Hamburg. When I’m in the parade we walk on either side of the truck, so we’re going at a walking pace,” he said.
“I truly don’t understand why they pulled me out. But, so be it and here I am.