MORRISBURG – Santa Claus is returning to South Dundas sooner than expected.
He’ll be making his way to Morrisburg for the annual Santa Claus Parade on Sat., Dec. 4. While it will look a little different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unlike last year, it will go ahead. The Davies family is already hard at work pulling things together for the holiday event.
“He’s still involved,” Lori-Anne Davies said of her father George Davies. Lori-Anne is doing a lot of the heavy lifting this year, but her father, the man who’s been the captain behind the event for years, is still steering the float.
Lori-Anne said her family moved to Morrisburg roughly two decades ago, discovering the village didn’t have an annual Christmas parade. Her father, who had been an organizer of the Santa Claus Parade in Montreal, decided to take on the task himself, with help from his wife and two daughters. George has been involved with parade planning since he was a youngster himself, he said, noting that he first got involved when his father and uncle began organizing the Montreal parades roughly 70 years ago.
“Last year, we didn’t have it because of COVID,” Lori-Anne said, noting that this year has been a waiting game to see what would be allowed in terms of pandemic guidelines around meetings and events. “The township is behind us, so we are going ahead now.”
This year, due to the pandemic, there will be no marching bands. Normally, the parade has several, including a steel drum band, that participate every year, but because of COVID-19 they’ve been unable to meet and practice, George said.
“Typically, we have five or six bands that would join us, one from Montreal. That’s my old high school band,” Lori-Anne said, adding that they’ve been coming every year for quite some time. “So, it’ll be a parade without bands, but still a parade.”
Plans still include a post-parade gathering, Lori-Anne said, but it will be a little different, as organizers need to make accommodations to comply with Ontario’s pandemic guidelines. For example, Santa will be there, but children probably won’t be able to sit on his knee. Children are reminded to bring their letters for Santa, as he will be accepting them. Parade goers are also being asked to remember to socially distance.
“We’re trying to keep it as normal as possible. We hope that it’ll go well, and we’ll have a lot of participation this year,” Lori-Anne said. “They really need that, that little boost of, ‘yeah, we’re getting back to normal and at some point, we’ll be able to take the masks off and give each other hugs again.’”
The route should be the same as it is every year, Lori-Anne said, noting that it will start with floats and participants getting ready and lining up at Giant Tiger and Canadian Tire. At some point during the route, the parade will go by the shopping centre and then over to the seniors’ residence.
As for cost, Lori-Anne said there are many generous donations from local businesses that usually help pay for the marching bands. This year, however, there are no marching bands and she’s not asking businesses to donate money.
“We’re not asking for financial assistance unless somebody feels that they want to, and they can because we know that the businesses were so hard-hit, and a lot of the cost is for the bands. The bands can cost upwards of $1,000 per band,” she said. “So, we’re just asking for participation more than anything this year. And we do have a little bit of money left over from last year.”
Lori-Anne said she’s also looking for people to participate next year, as she’s hoping to create a planning committee for the 2022 parade. It takes a lot of time to organize, and with her full-time job, her sister living in Trenton, and her parents aging and dealing with health concerns, Lori-Anne said a committee is going to be necessary going forward.
“There are some volunteers that will help out at Giant Tiger and at Canadian Tire in organizing folks and getting them moving when they’re supposed to,” Lori-Anne said, noting that more volunteers are always welcome, as there are usually registered floats that don’t show and many non-registered floats that do show, requiring a lot of on-the-spot organizing.
While they do have some floats already registered, Lori-Anne said what she needs is people to participate in the parade, to volunteer behind the scenes, and to watch and enjoy the parade itself. Anyone looking to be part of the parade or to put a float in the parade, is asked to contact Lori-Anne. She can be contacted by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (613-360-5877).