St. Thomas Santa Claus parade to repeat drive-by format

·2 min read

It's no traditional parade, but Santa Claus is still coming to the Railway City this holiday season.

For the second straight year, Pinafore Park will be transformed into a winter wonderland for Old St. Nick's three-day stopover in St. Thomas from Dec. 3 to 5.

"I am thrilled to be part of this wonderful community event for the second year," Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek said in a statement Friday. "We have so much to celebrate and appreciate this Christmas season, and I look forward to seeing people safely come together once again."

After a successful stationary event last year, organizers with the St. Thomas Optimist Club — in collaboration with Yurek, MP Karen Vecchio and the city of St. Thomas — settled on a drive-by parade once again instead of the traditional march along Talbot Street.

Yurek said the Optimists, which head the parade organizing, were unable to receive approval from the area public health unit in time to prepare for an in-person event with large crowds. He also cited other timeline-related constraints and safety concerns as reasons for the move.

Still, organizers expect the parade — with the theme of A Magical Christmas — to draw a large turnout again this year, Yurek said.

"I would imagine (to see) probably the same, maybe a little bit larger crowd," he said in an interview. "We have worked at making sure traffic is flowing a little better than last year to mitigate any impacts of the roadway, so we're prepared for a large amount of people coming out that weekend."

New this year, the free shuttle service is expanding to include five pickup locations across the city for those without access to a vehicle.

From their vehicles, spectators will be able to enjoy both new and returning holiday floats by area businesses and organizations, holiday decorations and a lighting display.

The best part of the annual Christmas celebration, for Yurek, is seeing the joy on people's faces as they browse through the decorated displays, he said.

"I like seeing the smiles inside the cars after people have seen all the floats that the volunteers have put together," he said. "It really makes for a nice weekend."

Parade-goers are encouraged to donate cash or non-perishable food items to the St. Thomas Christmas Care and the St. Thomas fire department. Proceeds are equally distributed among the Elgin-Middlesex-London food banks.

cleon@postmedia.com

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What: A Magical Christmas Santa Claus parade in St. Thomas

When: Dec. 3-5, 4-9 p.m.

Where: Pinafore Park, 95 Elm St., St. Thomas

Online: For more information about the event and shuttle service, visit www.optimistsantaclausparade.ca/.

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press

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