‘Tis the season to be illuminated

It's going to be a green Christmas. Or a "green" Christmas parade, at least. Erin Corbett, the parade's newest artistic director, doesn't really like parade floats.

It’s going to be a green Christmas.

Or a “green” Christmas parade, at least.

Erin Corbett, the parade’s newest artistic director, doesn’t really like parade floats.

“I just don’t think it’s good for anybody,” she said, describing the usual parade scene of kids walking through exhaust fumes that hang in the cold air behind the big trucks.

“And I think they’re boring. I’ve been to so many parades where I’m just sitting there and I’m not participating. I could be watching TV. Whereas if people can watch it and then join in when they feel like joining in, that’s far more exciting.

“There is a ‘wow’ factor to the floats, but I think humans can create that ‘wow’ factor as well.”

But floats won’t be entirely excluded.

They are welcome to park at LePage Park, where the parade will end, sparking a party.

The park also has electricity, meaning there will be no need for dirty generators.

And Corbett is experimenting with solar power in hopes of reducing the dependency on batteries.

But the parade’s eco-conscience isn’t the biggest change this year.

Since the Hougen’s brought up the first Santa in the 1950s, the man in red – and his mode of transportation – has always been the main attraction for the annual, winter event.

In 1960, a helicopter landed right on the corner of Main Street and Second Avenue to deliver the jolly old fella.

He’s rode in on a convertible, a four-wheeler, a snowmobile, a dog sled and the White Pass train, when it still rolled into Whitehorse.

But this year, ol’ Saint Nick isn’t the main event.

Light is.

For the first time, the parade will be held at night.

Things will kick off at dusk (4:30 p.m.) with the lighting of the tree at First Avenue and Main Street.

“The daytime doesn’t have the same magic,” said Corbett. “At nighttime, you can play with the light and that is when the magic comes out.”

Corbett is a bit of an expert with light.

The new artistic director of Yukon Educational Theatre is a live-projection artist, meaning she plays with light and the projection of images and colours, usually for musical acts, she said.

But Corbett won’t be featuring her art in the parade.

She still needs to find a way for her equipment to handle the cold.

And overall – complete with fire performers and glow-in-the-dark hula hoopers – handling the cold is the main objective of the whole event.

“It’s lighting up the night,” said Corbett. “It is about bringing warmth to the dark and also making allusions to the stars and aurora borealis.

“It’s warming up the night, welcoming the winter and creating this nice little mirror to Burning Away the Winter Blues. When you’ve got your shoulders up and you’re hesitant about winter, it’s going to make it a lot harder than if you welcome it.”

One of Corbett’s main inspirations is the Illuminaries Festival of Lanterns, held every fall at Trout Lake in Vancouver.

“I went as a 20-year-old and was just enchanted,” she said. “And that’s a goal of mine, to create all-ages events that are cool to little kids, to parents, but also the in-between.”

The idea is a free, accessible event for everyone to gather and celebrate the good aspects of winter.

Corbett is hoping people can bring their own lanterns, lights or glowy things and encourages everyone to enjoy the best of both worlds by jumping in and participating in the parade when they feel like it, as well as sitting on the sides to watch.

Once at the park, fire performers will take to the stage, the RootSellers will be spinning holiday re-mixes and two fire barrels will be set up with carolers and storytellers.

“People see it as just the Santa Parade,” said Corbett. “But after this year, people will see that we’re incorporating a lot more into it.”

And the goal isn’t to take away from the big guy with the white beard, but to add to it all, said Corbett

Plus, no matter how hard you try, you could never take the attention away from Father Christmas, said Mary-Jane Warshawski.

“He’s the guy,” the president of the Main Street Yukon Society said, comparing Saint Nick’s celebrity to that of Brangelina. “He’s the main man for all those little children. So he will never not be a part of it.

“But it is great that Winterval, and this whole effort, does appeal to the whole family, or the kids who don’t necessarily believe in Santa anymore. Or for all the adults that need to be cheered as the days get so short and so cold.”

The Main Street business owner has been involved in the parade since she worked for the Hougen’s in the 1990s.

She’s seen many changes to the winter tradition over the years, which has department store beginnings similar to those of the Macy’s Parade in New York City.

And Warshawski welcomes the changes this year.

“It’s so important for all of Main Street to be an expression of who and what we are,” she said. “It’s a representation of how we live. And that’s why bringing this light and warmth and energy to our Main Street is so important.”

Warshawski’s Main Street Yukon Society is currently working on a tourism-orientated study that hopes to produce a list of things to make Whitehorse’s Main Street more attractive.

The report is not expected until February, but it could include small suggestions like flower baskets to bigger ideas like hosting more large, cultural events, she said, adding the visitors the study focuses on can range from people from the communities to those from a different country, to people who live in a different Whitehorse neighbourhood.

And gathering all types of people to celebrate all types of winter magic is the main reason Corbett wanted to organize this year’s parade, she said.

She just hopes people will remember to bring their lanterns.

The parade starts at First Avenue and Main Street at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, November 26. It will march up Main Street, turn on Third Avenue and end at LePage Park. The festivities will continue there until about 7 p.m.

There is also a final lantern-making workshop being held tonight, Friday, November 25, at the Youth Lounge at the Canada Games Centre from 7 to 9 p.m. It’s for youth aged 10 to 15, is free – apart from the centre’s wristband cost – and there will be the chance to make two different types of lanterns. The lounge is open from 6 to 10 p.m.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

Local poet Joanna Lilley is photographed at the Beringia Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 20, where she will be hosting a poetry workshop on Jan. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Poetry for the ages

Workshop set for the Yukon Beringia Centre

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Most Read