Lights flashing, they drove north through the darkness Thursday, a caravan of about 70 fire trucks, ambulances and police cars headed toward a small, red-headed girl in a party dress.
Hannah Garman, 4, quietly watched them pulling into a parking lot. She was lying on a litter just outside an ambulance, her pink shoes poking out of a white sheet.
Hannah, who lives in Lititz with her dad, brother and sister, recently was diagnosed with a fatal form of brain cancer. Her mom, Christine, died from cancer two years ago.
Hannah's wish for Christmas this year was to get lots of cards.
That wish went out in an e-mail late last week. Her family believes it was sent by someone who knows them but they are not sure.
It would be an understatement to say that Hannah's wish has been granted.
Within days, cards began trickling into the Lititz home of her grandparents, who are helping to care for her. The trickle became a stream, then a torrent, then a flood of hundreds of cards from all over the world, as the e-mail spread over the Internet.
School children made cards. Churches sent them. Families and kids and everybody and his brother, from Canada to Mexico to Singapore, has gotten in on the action.
When county firefighters heard about Hannah, they thought it would be nice if they could send her some cheer, too.
Glenn Usdin, deputy chief of the Lancaster Township Fire Company, suggested on a fire message board that it would be nice for fire companies to collect some cards, get a few trucks together and deliver them to Hannah.
"We all call each other brothers and sisters," Usdin said of the firefighting community Thursday. "We heard about Hannah and we said she's an honorary sister to us."
Usdin knew that when the call goes out to firefighters, they answer.
As Todd Steinmetz, a lieutenant from the White Horse Fire Company, said, "It's just what we do."
A flood of fire companies decided to participate, gathering Thursday in Warwick Township at Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Center, which helped organize the event.
They traveled together to the Lititz Area Mennonite School, where Hannah was brought by ambulance to greet the procession.
It took 19 minutes just for the caravan to pull into the parking lot. Here was an antique fire truck decorated with Christmas lights. There was a huge, state-of-the-art truck, with Santa Claus sitting in the passenger seat.
Someone dressed up in a Dalmatian suit waved from atop another truck.
Amish firefighters came. So did city firefighters. There were police officers from New Holland and Quarryville. Emergency medical workers from all over the place joined in.
Hannah watched, her dad, Darin, and other family members by her side. Siblings Brittany, 12, and Jordan, 9, were there, too, as well as members of her large extended family.
A group of well wishers, most who did not know Hannah, also stood nearby in support, some of them wiping the tears from their eyes.
"It's really overwhelming. It's amazing how much love and Christmas spirit there is," Hannah's father said afterward, as Hannah opened cards from the piles stacked in bags and baskets alongside her on the school auditorium's stage.
"This just makes us realize there are a lot of people out there who care and will reach out to people they don't know," said Hannah's great-aunt, Jane Pfautz, of Ephrata.
The plan is for Hannah to start chemotherapy next week, and radiation the week after that. Her family is hoping for a miracle, Pfautz said.
A little one already happened Thursday.
"Maybe Hannah will be the miracle for Lancaster County," said Sharon Garloff, of Ephrata, who came to Lititz to see the procession. "Look at this! It's amazing what she has done for Lancaster County."
Cards may be sent to: Hannah Garman, 704 Orchard Road, Lititz, Pa., 17543.