Santa will be visiting fewer parade routes this year, but Christmas spirits still high

·3 min read

The pandemic is going to change the way people celebrate this holiday season, and one series of events that definitely won't look the same are annual Santa Claus parades.

Last year, tens of thousands of people attended the Downtown St. John's Santa Claus Parade, but events of that size are not in the cards for festivities this year due to COVID-19 public health restrictions.

Typically, the Downtown St. John's Santa Claus Parade takes place around the end of November.

Just a few weeks out from that date and organizers have yet to nail down any concrete plans.

At first, the city had toyed with the idea of a "reverse parade," where spectators would drive past a stationary lineup of floats and performers on Harbour Drive.

Gaylynne Gulliver, marketing and special events manager with Downtown St. John's, said the details are still being worked out.

However, Gulliver said organizers have confirmed that Santa Claus will be in attendance for whatever sort of parade plan they come up with.

Meg Roberts/CBC
Meg Roberts/CBC

Mount Pearl parade cancelled

In Mount Pearl, the Lions Club was hoping to organize the city's Santa Claus Parade for the 65th year, but chair Gerald Coombs said the club decided not to go ahead with the annual event.

"Because of all of the circumstances on the go, we felt that we couldn't in good conscience have the parade," he said.

Floats make up a big chunk of the Mount Pearl parade, he said, but on top of that there are hordes of dancers, cheerleaders, marching bands, Girl Guides and Scouts — plus hundreds of spectators.

Coombs said the Lions Club couldn't see how everyone could safely gather and participate while adhering to public health guidelines.

"We did consider the so-called 'reverse parade,' but for us we didn't think it was really a suitable thing to do," Coombs said.

CBC
CBC

"The city would work with us in terms of traffic control and pedestrian control, but even with that assistance … as soon as the traffic gets to Santa they're going to be stopping."

Coombs is disappointed, especially for the local food bank that typically gets a huge donation after the parade.

"We collect through the parade with the help of Coleman's — they provide their van — and we fill that with food for the food bank," he said.

"In addition we collect money along the route, and Scotiabank has always matched what we've collected."

Those donations have previously reached $6,000 in a single year, and Coombs hopes residents remember those in need even without the parade.

"I would ask people in Mount Pearl … [to] keep in mind the extra need at the food bank for support during this time of year," Coombs said.

Corner Brook going ahead … sort of

In Corner Brook, the Santa Claus parade will be going ahead, although it will look a lot different.

This year, it will be the spectators who float along, passing downtown storefront displays.

City tourism co-ordinator Glenda Simms said West Street will be transformed into a "Christmas storybook land."

Colleen Connors/CBC
Colleen Connors/CBC

Local groups will be designing seasonal storybook-style covers which will then be displayed on large boards along the route leading to City Hall, where Santa Claus is set to visit for the evening.

"We'll have lights on all of our heritage poles and Santa's workshop in the Square," Simms said.

"It's a very cheerful feeling to try to bring something to the community to lift spirits through such a hard time."

Simms said there will be someone on hand to collect letters for Santa Claus, as well as an area for food bank donations.

Corner Brook's "reverse Christmas parade" is set for Dec. 12 from 5-9 p.m.

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