Santa 'very excited' to return to parades in Saint John area

SAINT JOHN • Saint John's Santa Claus parades are returning this year, but the number of floats are so far down compared to previous years before the pandemic, according to an organizer.

As of Thursday, the Saint John Santa Claus Parade – known colloquially as the uptown parade – is sitting at 30 floats, down from the normal registration count of 50 to 60, said Blaine Harris, with the Saint John Lancaster Business Association. Meanwhile, the Lancaster Santa Claus Parade has seen 23 float registrations so far, with average number of floats between 40 and 50 in previous years.

Harris cited ongoing remote work as one of the potential reasons, as well as schools not reaching out to organizers yet. New entries are still being welcomed, and he said organizers will also be reaching out to the former participants as there is still another week left for registrations.

Harris said people are awaiting the parades as Saint John has not had them since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I expect a much higher participation than 2019," he said.

This year's theme for both parades is community, "so bringing the community back to the people," he added.

The uptown parade is scheduled for Nov. 19, beginning at 6 p.m., and it will take off from Crown Street, between Paul Harris and Union streets. It will follow the traditional route and end at Lansdowne Avenue, Harris said.

The west side parade is scheduled for Nov. 26, and it starts at 1 p.m. from Manawagonish Road, in front of Barnhill Memorial School, and will end at the former Aquarius Tower parking lot.

Meanwhile, the Town of Saint Andrews has also put a registration call out on social media for its parade. It's scheduled for Dec. 3. The Town of St. Stephen has announced several Christmas events on Facebook as a part of its Walk of Lights itinerary, with the theme being St. Stephen Sparkles. St. Stephen's Santa Claus parade will be held on Dec. 2 at 6 p.m.

Tim Roszell, communication and engagement coordinator for the Town of Quispamsis, confirmed that the Kennebecasis Valley Santa Claus Parade is back in full force for its 24th year. It's scheduled for Nov. 26 starting at 6 p.m. It will start at the Kennebecasis Valley High School and end at Rothesay High School.

Roszell said the parade is "very popular," and it's expecting an average of around 10,000 people. This year's theme is Christmas at the movies.

According to Roszell, the town is excited about this year's event as more floats are being registered than in past years, with 20 entries coming in within the last week of October alone. The registration continues until Nov. 14 with no application fees, he added.

"We are in very good shape to have a real fun and exciting parade for everybody to enjoy," he said.

"Santa is very, very excited to be in the parade once again this year," he added, noting "there is a buzz that's starting to build" around town.

Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal