City dumps Garbage Truck Santa

It appears to officially be the end of an era. For two decades, Santa, known as Wayne Henderson during the non-festive season, would drive a garbage truck decked out in lights and other Christmas regalia around Whitehorse.

It appears to officially be the end of an era.

For two decades, Santa, known as Wayne Henderson during the non-festive season, would drive a garbage truck decked out in lights and other Christmas regalia around Whitehorse.

The city attempted to end the event last year. After a flurry of public complaints, a compromise of sorts was developed. City councillors drove Santa around in a lit-up van instead.

“(The decision to lose the garbage truck) was such a shock to the community that we decided to come up with a compromise,” Linda Rapp, the city’s director of community and recreation services, said of that decision.

But this year even that won’t be happening.

The city will be putting on a number of Christmas events, but the lit-up trash truck is no more.

“It was a great unique tradition but operationally it wasn’t possible (anymore),” said Rapp.

The garbage truck that Santa used for all those years was sold in 2011. The new ones are not designed the same way and prevent them from being decorated, Rapp said.

“The whole mechanics of the other truck is different,” she said this week. “It’s basically not operational if you have lights on it.”

When controversy over the cancellation of the tradition erupted last year, the city explained that there are only three garbage trucks, two for regular service and one for backup.

With the bin system that the city implemented a few years ago, sanitation workers can’t use just any truck to pick up garbage like they used to when there was a breakdown.

On top of that, under territorial law, it’s illegal to have flashing lights on a motorized vehicle, except for emergency vehicles.

In the past the city always got a waiver for Santa’s truck.

Last year, instead of having him drive around on a garbage truck, the city used a one-ton vehicle, a Santa from the Rent-A-Santa charity program, and city councillors acting as elves.

“(This year) we’ve opted to go with other activities that we feel will have a better reach to the community,” Rapp said.

Henderson told the News that, as a city employee, he was not in the position to comment for the story.

Rapp said many of the city’s holiday traditions have evolved over the years.

She points to things like the Winterval Festival, happening this year on Nov. 30.

“It used to be Santa coming down the street and then pictures and now it has transitioned into much, much more,” she said.

The same can be said for the city’s Festival of Lights Tour with Santa, scheduled for Dec. 14.

“It used to be getting on a transit bus and driving around looking at the lights. Now it’s a really full night of activities.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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