'Santa really is real:' Toms River police make Christmas wish come true for 9-year-old boy
TOMS RIVER - Mason Dentroux had gotten everything he wanted for Christmas this year. Well, almost.
Santa had come. The presents were opened. The family was gathered together. When his mother Laura Dentroux asked if he had gotten everything on his list, he said there was just one thing missing.
But thinking back on it, he told his mother it was probably too much to have asked for anyway.
As it turned out, Santa had one last surprise in store.
About 1:30 Christmas afternoon, a cavalcade of Toms River police vehicles rolled down Mason's street in the Pleasant Plains section of town, lights flashing and blaring an instrumental version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." The officers had a final gift for the boy.
Days earlier, Mason had sent a second letter to the North Pole with an added Christmas request that he neglected to mention in his first note to Santa: He wanted to be a Toms River police officer for a day.
The officers gathered at the end of his driveway carried a letter informing him that his wish would be coming true. It was signed by the man himself, "Merry Christmas, Santa Claus."
"He was just absolutely dumbfounded," Dentroux said. "He didn't know what to do. He didn't know want to say."
"He came in the house and said, 'Mommy, Santa really is real.'"
It was a natural wish for Mason.
Public service runs in the family's blood. Laura is a member of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. Her father and brother have worked with the Pleasant Plains Volunteer Fire Department for decades. Her husband Richard retired from the Freehold Township Police Department.
"(Mason) sees the way that we help other people," Dentroux said. "He's been kind of obsessed with being a police officer since he was a toddler."
She said Mason is "ecstatic" at the prospect of working in the police department and has been asking about it "every five seconds" since Christmas Day. The family plans to work out the details of his one-day stint in the department in the coming days, Dentroux said.
She posted videos of the encounter on her Facebook page Christmas night, and the post has been shared more than 1,000 times as of Friday afternoon. See the footage in the videos below and at the top of this story.
Dentroux said the gesture is a reminder of all the often unnoticed good deeds police officers perform in their communities each day.
"Police officers catch a really bad rap and it's heartbreaking because there's so many young men and women who do things like this every day," she said. "It's absolutely wonderful that they did for this for us because they didn't have to."
"It worked out perfectly," Dentroux added of the Christmas surprise. "It was just magical."
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Andrew Goudsward covers crime and breaking news. A lifelong native of the Jersey Shore, he won a New Jersey Press Association award for best new journalist in 2018. Contact him at email@example.com, 732-897-4555 or @AGoudsward on Twitter.