Patience urged for Amherstburg Santa Claus Parade after 'staggering' turnout in Kingsville

·2 min read

The region's second drive-thru Santa Claus parade is happening Saturday in Amherstburg and organizers are hoping for a smoother event this time around.

The so-called "reverse" parade — attendees drive by floats and performers that stay in place — is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the grounds of the Libro Centre Arena in Amherstburg.

Maggie Durocher of the Windsor Parade Corporation is urging patience as she's expecting a very large turnout — similar to the event in Kingsville last weekend.

"I would encourage families to enjoy the time that they have together, celebrate what they do have, not what they don't have," she said. "Use the time waiting to access the parade route to enjoy the holiday season together."

The event will feature multiple entertainers including fire jugglers and horse units as well as giant inflatables.

"It'll be a great outing for families," she said. "They can turn to 90.7 on the radio, listen to Santa talk to them as they go along … the parade route."

They are also looking to broadcast the event on Facebook Live.

The Windsor Parade Corporation, a non-profit, is behind Saturday's event as well as the one last weekend in Kingsville and the upcoming Windsor parade on Dec. 5.

Kingsville apologizes for parade issues

The Town of Kingsville issued an apology after its parade, which saw spectators face long waits to see the performers and "traffic rerouting concerns" due to the overwhelming attendance.

The town said some of the concerns stemmed from "miscommunication" on its part.

"We apologize to anyone who had a poor experience, and we thank them for their feedback and patience," the Town of Amherstburg said in a statement Sunday.

The reverse parade format was implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns around social distancing.

"Although we expected a crowd, the ultimate response was incredible yet staggering," the town said.

Work is being done around the clock to mitigate the challenges experienced in Kingsville, Durocher said. Parade organizers were set to meet with Amherstburg officials Tuesday.

But Durocher also acknowledged that, given the high volume of traffic expected, there's only so much they can do.

Part of the strategy this time around is to narrow down the routes people are taking to the site, she said. And unlike the Kingsville event, the Amherstburg parade is on a closed circuit.

While this year's parades are taking a different form due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Durocher said the intention is to make the events as safe as possible.

"We were working hard to make sure that this … was not a year without a Santa Claus," she said.