- Associated Press - Sunday, March 12, 2017

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - When the weather’s nice on the weekends, Jennifer Chisholm watches children flock to the end of her street in the Chimney Hill neighborhood.

Two antique fire trucks are often parked in front of the house at the corner of Rosemont and Bunyan roads.

“It’s a main street, so everybody’s like ‘Wow,’ ” she said.

But lately, the trucks have been missing.

Owner Jasen White moved them to Pungo after an anonymous neighbor made a string of complaints to the police. The former firefighter hasn’t gotten in trouble, but he’s not happy about all the time police have spent at his house.

“Please stop wasting our taxpayer money and officer resources!!” White posted on Nextdoor, a neighborhood-based social media site. “We spoke with the VBPD, state police and the zoning office in Virginia Beach, and we are not doing anything illegal.”

The first time White caught wind there were neighbors who didn’t like his truck was around Christmas.

He decorated one of his trucks with lights and had a friend dressed as Santa handing out candy. He turned on the lights and sirens to let neighbors know when Santa had arrived at their home.

The Chimney Hill Homeowners’ Association had advertised the event, and White said he called the city to make sure he didn’t need special permission to do it.

White said three neighbors complained that day. Police allowed him to finish his round around the neighborhood, but asked that he turn off his sirens. Many children missed the truck.

“It’s like going up to a puppy dog and kicking it,” White said. “It’s the biggest Grinch thing in the world.”

Since then, one neighbor has called the city with several complaints about where the trucks are parked, White said. He knows it’s against homeowners’ association rules to park a commercial vehicle in the area for more than 48 consecutive hours, so he often drives the trucks to work if he has to keep them at the house for more than two days.

White has lived in Chimney Hill since 2009. He bought his first fire truck in 2014.

He found it on a Facebook group, where he gets most of the accessories needed to restore the truck. He’s also part of the Old Dominion Historical Fire Society, a group of fire department and equipment enthusiasts from around the state who trade and sell.

“I sold the Corvette one day, and bought the truck the next day,” White said. The fire truck was a new project for him to tackle, plus White was a firefighter for 16 years in Hampton Roads and Richmond.

White has no experience fixing fire trucks, beyond the maintenance he was responsible for as a firefighter. He’s learned how to replace wheels on his ladder truck, which is named Big Bella, and fix engines.

He recently bought the truck he used to ride as a Virginia Beach firefighter at the Davis Corner Station. The Courtland Volunteer Fire Department bought the truck from Virginia Beach years ago, and White recently bought it from the town at an auction. He’s in the process of cleaning it up, and it will be ready in time for St. Patrick’s Day parades.

White spends about a year making sure each truck is in pristine condition. Last year, he spent $30,000 on the vehicles. Throughout the year, the trucks participate in parades, children’s events and fundraisers. White is working on creating a formal nonprofit.

“To me, it’s more like a labor of love than anything else,” he said. “It all becomes worth it when we see the kids smile.”

Arnel Arceo lives down the street from White. He doesn’t have children, but he’s noticed how kids flock to the house to see and play on the trucks.

He doesn’t mind the trucks, but they did take some getting used to, especially learning how to navigate around them.

“But it doesn’t matter,” Arceo said. “I think they’re nice people. I don’t mind.”

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Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, https://pilotonline.com

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