An eye-catching addition to the fleet of state plows in Vermont has a special mission. It isn't focusing on removal of snow or treating highways for freezing rain. Rather, this plow spreads holiday cheer while also serving as an ambassador for job recruitment.
"Everybody needs a little joy in their lives, and this does that," said John Dunbar, who operates Rudolph, the flashiest rig in the fleet at the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
Rudolph is an older plow that was nearing its end of service to the state, VTrans said. It got new life when it was decked out in nearly 5,000 holiday lights, including a large red bulb in the front to represent the nose of the most famous reindeer of all.
Dunbar drives Rudolph in holiday parades and parks him where families can check him out. VTrans encouraged Vermonters to follow its Facebook page to learn more about appearances Rudolph is making around the state.
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A partial schedule of public appearances from Rudolph the lighted plow truck includes these events:
- 12/9: St. Albans Truck Parade
- 12/10: Light Up the Night Holiday Parade, Lyndonville
- 12/17: Grand Isle County Holiday Parade, South Hero
- 12/23: Casella Waste Christmas Truck Parade, West Rutland
While the highway-sized plow truck brings smiles to faces, it also has a serious goal.
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Todd Law, the deputy director of district maintenance and fleet for VTrans, said the agency hopes through added visibility at events and on social media, the truck will help drive attention to jobs the agency needs to fill.
"We are actively hiring," Law emphasized, noting VTrans has a need for upwards of 50 plow drivers and fleet maintenance workers, especially in the northwest corner of the state based out of Colchester.
Some job openings, advertised on this state website, come with sign-on and retention bonuses, Law noted.
"It’s an essential job," Law told NECN & NBC10 Boston Monday. "Without that, we don’t move safely in the winter in the Northeast."
Electrical engineer Iain Portalupi animated lights to mimic snow flying off the plow's blade. All told, he said there are 4,801 lights on board the truck and its attached plow. The one light on top of the 4,800 is the bulb for Rudolph's very shiny nose.
"Seeing the reaction on people’s faces, they really like this thing," Portalupi observed. "I really hope that it inspires the younger generation to think about becoming plow truck drivers."
If Rudolph the red-nosed snowplow can achieve that, surely he'll go down in history, too.