Santa Claus will not be coming to town this year.
The Brandon Santa Parade has been cancelled for the second year in a row.
“It’s heartbreaking and a lot of people like it, enjoy it and look forward to it. To have to make a decision like this is not easy for anyone,” said Karlheinz Sawatzky-Dyck, the Santa Parade committee chair.
“It’s just the way it is for now.”
The decision to cancel the event was influenced by a number of variables but was largely fuelled by the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and related public health measures.
The committee waited as long as it could before making a final decision to pull the plug, he said, but given the state of public health measures in Manitoba, the committee believed it was imperative to make the call and cancel the parade.
On Tuesday, Manitoba transitioned to a restricted response level, with many of the new rules affecting unvaccinated people’s ability to gather.
“With the kind of event that it is, it would be hard to stand there and check everyone’s vaccination cards. It’s an open event, anyone can show up. It’s not a closed venue,” Sawatzky-Dyck said.
He added the other challenge the committee faced in planning the parade was the potential increased COVID-19 restrictions the province could experience in the coming months.
The parade typically takes place on the third Saturday of November and there were fears the event could face adversity as it did in 2021 when the province shut down due to COVID-19. Last year’s event was cancelled last minute owing to a provincial lockdown.
“Anything could happen at this point,” Sawatzky-Dyck said. “In some ways, it was better to just cancel it again this year.”
The Santa Parade regularly runs through downtown Brandon, moving down Rosser Avenue, then up Princess Avenue. Community groups build dozens of creative floats for the event, with Santa and Mrs. Claus headlining the parade.
Sawatzky-Dyck hopes next year the committee will be able to once again host the parade without the looming uncertainty of COVID-19.
“It’s unfortunate and sad, and hopefully things will turn out much better for next year,” Sawatzky-Dyck said.
For those looking forward to the 2022 parade, the best way to support the event is to shop at local businesses while thinking of different float designs to enter in the parade.
Local businesses have been essential supporters of the parade, providing both floats and sponsorships. He hopes to see support for local businesses thrive in Brandon, so local shops in turn can continue to support local organizations.
“We need to support each other because if we don’t, Amazon is not going to come over and put a float in [the parade], I guarantee that,” Sawatzky-Dyck said. “If it costs a few more dollars or takes a bit more time, it’s best to go locally … Otherwise there’s not going to be a lot.”
» Twitter: @The_ChelseaKemp
Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun