By Charlie Senack
Hundreds lined Strandherd Drive for the annual Barrhaven Santa Claus Parade which was back after a pandemic-induced hiatus.
With wind chills making it feel below -16 on Nov. 20, a smaller than usual crowd came out to watch. About 30 floats and vehicles made up the parade route, which lasted about 20 minutes.
It was the first time in two years a Santa Claus Parade was held in Barrhaven. While organizers hoped to organize a drive by event last year, high insurance costs prevented that from happening. But with no COVID-19 restrictions in place, the long-standing community tradition was able to return.
“We were so excited to bring the parade back this year. It has always been a huge family event,” said Barrhaven Santa Claus Parade co-chair Dawn Lilly. “It was a year in the making for us. We took a lot of what we were planning for last year and brought it forward for this year.”
Lilly said many Barrhaven residents kick start their Christmas season by attending the parade. This year donations were collected for the Barrhaven Food Cupboard.
“It’s the start of the giving season,” she said. “The parade fostered the feeling of community for a lot of people and it brought people together again. It was nice for people to see their neighbors again.”
This year the parade relied on donations from the community to cover the costs.
While it went off without a hitch, Lilly said their GoFundMe page raised only about $1,100 of their $18,000 goal.
The annual Christmas event is often sponsored by businesses in the community, but organizers decided to explore a different route this year because of rising costs and inflation.
“The last few years have been hard on them. Even coming out of COVID, it’s still not easy with rising costs and labor shortages,” said Lilly.
“I believe there’s a lot of misconception about how events like this are put together and funded. People think corporate sponsors should fund this, but it’s not that easy,” she added. “We have asked (places like) Costco, Canadian Tire, and Loblaws. It goes up to the head office and it goes nowhere. They have places they donate to and a local parade is not one of them.”
The $18,000 budget for the parade is to cover insurance, fencing, and security, all services which cannot be donated. This year’s parade was funded by local businesses who stepped in to help after the Barrhaven Santa Claus Parade put out a call for help on social media.”
The night capped off with Santa Claus giving a wave to onlookers from his newly-built sleigh, pulled by eight reindeer.
Plans are already in the works for next year’s parade, which Lilly hopes will be bigger and better than ever.