Christmas Parade volunteers have been dusting off Santa’s sleigh and making minor repairs in preparation for this year’s Dec. 14 event, the last time Santa will ride through the streets of Niagara-on-the-Lake on the familiar float we’ve seen for years.
And as it travels through the streets, many will be reminded of the long-time parade committee chair, Bruce Pospiech.
“Santa’s float is all set to go for the big day,” says Bob Cheriton, long-time parade committee member. “But sadly, this will be the last year for it. Sadly because this particular float was the dream and creation of our former chair, Bruce Pospiech. Working on it was a strong reminder that Bruce will not be with us this year, and of his incredible contribution to over 30 parades.
There was some anticipation there might be a new float in time for this Christmas, but although work has begun on a new one, with a design completed and arrangements made for construction, the timeline is now to have it ready for Santa and the 2020 parade, says Cheriton. Fundraising for the project is expected to start early in the new year.
Gathering to put the finishing touches on the float, says Cheriton, “also reminded us that another long-time parade committee member, John Fryer, will not be with us. For many years, John organized the exceptional team of marshalls that make sure all entries are in their correct position and ready to go for our 11 a.m. start on parade day. They also keep a watchful eye for the safety of participants and attendees. Both Bruce and John were also long-time, close, personal friends and are very much missed.”
As float applications come in for this year’s parade, both from regulars and new entries, Cheriton can be sure of one constant — the marching bands people love to hear will be back.
Cheriton knows the favourites of the parade — considered by many the best parade in the region, often described as the best anywhere — always include the bands, which are a huge draw. Some of them are a must, and ensuring their return to Niagara-on-the-Lake on the big day is always a priority.
“At this point we have seven bands booked for the parade,” says Cheriton, “and 60 entries confirmed overall, which puts us pretty much on track to hit the 100-entry mark once again.”
The confirmed bands are all old favourites, including the incredible Burlington Teen Tour Band, he says.
“We will be accepting entries until Nov. 30, and any group interested in participating can find the entry form on the Town’s website, NOTL.org.”
The parade committee is also accepting donations from local businesses and the community, he says. “These donations are the primary source of funding for our parade and help pay for our operating costs, which are dominated by the cost of bands.”
In keeping with the great traditions of the parade, and the spirit of Christmas, NOTL Hydro will once again be collecting non-perishable food donations.
Also, Canada Post will be collecting letters to Santa. Letters should be addressed to Santa at the North Pole with postal code H0H 0H0 and have a return address so that the elves are sure to send his replies to the right place.
The parade will once again start promptly at 11 a.m. and follow the traditional route to the Cenotaph on Queen Street.