Here comes Santa Claus ….
And this year he’ll be joined by some favourite childhood cartoon characters.
That’s the theme of the annual Winterval Santa Parade set to happen Dec. 7 along Main Street. The parade culminates in the lighting of the City of Whitehorse’s tree that’s been placed at Main and Front streets for the festive season.
“People are just so excited. It’s just such a wonderful event,” said organizer Anne Turner in a Dec. 2 interview.
This year’s parade will feature 24 entries — a mix of traditional floats and groups showing off their stuff on foot along the parade route.
Aside from Santa’s starring role in the festivities, exactly what each group and organization involved is planning for the parade is being kept under wraps — so to speak — until the big day.
Turner did, however, provide a bit of a hint, stating she’s hoping to see “some big toys” making their way down Main Street.
Turner said several businesses have really been stepping up to make the parade a big event over the past few years. Recent years have seen some heavy equipment featured to the delight of many youngsters who come to take in the parade with their families.
The parade has grown in recent years, Turner said. Ten to 15 entries had previously been standard. That has increased by a few annually to reach this year’s 24.
Similarly milder weather in recent years has seen the crowd of parade watchers grow as well. In 2018 there were about 1,500 to 2,000 people out to take it in and if the mild weather Whitehorse has been experiencing this year continues, Turner expects similar numbers for the 2019 parade.
Many who came out to the festivities last year got in the spirit by dressing as their favourite superhero, the theme of the 2018 Wintervale parade.
As Turner said the holidays mean something different to everyone and having a parade theme, like superheroes or cartoon characters, makes for a community event everyone can celebrate.
Turner’s hoping many spectators will be out to this year’s parade dressed as their favourite childhood cartoon characters.
Work to come up with a theme and plan the parade began in August with organizers looking at what subjects might be the most fun for kids to come up with costume ideas to dress up for the parade.
And while there’s a lot to do when it comes to putting a parade together, Turner said all those involved with the organizing don’t quite view it that way.
|The giant Christmas tree at the end of Main Street was lit at the conclusion of the santa parade on Dec. 8, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)|
“It doesn’t feel like work,” she said. “Everyone’s excited.”
The effort by local businesses and organizations that sponsor and put entries into the parade is by all accounts a similar one to those organizing the parade and Turner has been told by those who’ve put together parade floats and demonstrations in the past that it serves as a fun team-building exercise to get creative and plan a unique entry for spectators.
Along with heavy equipment, there’s been fire trucks, stilt walkers, mascots and more featured in years past. Even the Grinch has been known to make an appearance.
Both City of Whitehorse officials and Turner are reminding residents there will be street closures while the parade and tree lighting are underway.
The parade will start at 4 p.m. in the 600 block of Main Street, proceeding down the street to Front Street. Main Street will be closed for the parade, which is expected to end around 4:45 p.m.
After the parade will be the tree lighting ceremony with Front Street scheduled to be closed until 5:30 p.m. from Steele Street to Elliott Street.
That will mean limited parking downtown with the city recommending residents carpool, use transit or active transportation options to get to the event or through the area.
Bylaw officers will be on-hand for traffic control.
Each year’s tree is harvested, transported and installed at its Front Street location by ATCO Electric with City of Whitehorse parks and recreation staff tasked with adding thousands of lights ahead of the parade and tree-lighting festivities.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org