Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus… throughout Whitehorse neighbourhoods.
The annual Winterval parade will be held Dec. 4, but rather than heading down Main Street as originally planned, it will make its way through neighbourhoods around the city.
As Anne Lewis of CSR Management, which helps organize the parade, explained in a Nov. 24 interview, with the state of emergency declared earlier in November due to the rising COVID-19 cases in the territory, plans shifted with the parade now set to make its way along a lengthy route through many Whitehorse neighbourhoods, as it did in 2020.
The change in plans was announced Nov. 17 on the event Facebook page not long after the original vision for a more traditional Main Street parade was announced.
“At this stage we’re pretty much pivot-masters,” Lewis commented of changing things amid COVID-19 concerns.
In 2020, the traditional parade down Main Street to the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree was cancelled due to the pandemic and the idea for the Parade of Lights was born.
Lewis said organizers are disappointed the parade once again can’t happen along Main Street, knowing the positive impact the event has on nearby businesses. At the same time, they’re pleased, as they were last year, that a parade can still happen in a safe way and that residents will be able to see Santa.
Typically, large crowds would gather to take in the Main Street event.
The first Parade of Lights in 2020 allowed residents to view the tree lighting online. The parade started in Riverdale and made its way to the lighting downtown before following a route along major roads through Takhini, Whistle Bend, Porter Creek, McIntyre, Arkell, Copper Ridge, and Granger.
Whitehorse residents took in the colourfully lit and decorated vehicles and waved at Santa from their windows, balconies, driveways, or nearby streets without a crowded gathering happening downtown.
For many, it was a chance to celebrate the holidays as a community in a safe way after so many events and activities were cancelled due to COVID-19. As the parade made its way through the city, Lewis said it was heartening to see families smiling and hear many yelling their thanks.
“Most of us turned into big babies crying,” Lewis said. “It was really special.”
Despite heavy falling snow, the event was “overwhelmingly beautiful” she said.
This year’s festivities will follow the same parade route with residents once again able to view the tree lighting online at 5:30 p.m. Ahead of that, the parade will begin in Riverdale at 4:45 p.m. on Alsek Drive where it intersects with Nisutlin Drive.
The Facebook page (Winterval Santa Parade 2021) will feature a live address from Mayor Laura Cabott at 5 p.m. to welcome in the holiday season, followed by a live hit in Riverdale with CSR Management before the tree is lit at 5:30 p.m. after the parade arrives downtown.
From there, it will make its way through Marwell, up Mountainview Drive to Whistle Bend before heading to Porter Creek. It will come down Mountainveiw Drive turning on to Range Road to go through Takhini and then on to Valleyview, McIntyre, Copper Ridge and Granger before travelling Hamilton Boulevard to Robert Service Way to the end of the parade.
Lewis acknowledged that the route doesn’t cover every neighbourhood in the city, noting organizers worked to find a way to bring the parade to as many neighbourhoods as possible (including past Copper Ridge Place and the Whistle Bend Place extended care facilities) or make it a short trek to where residents can take it in.
Organizers will be updating the event page throughout the evening so residents will know when it’s expected to arrive in their neighbourhood.
As for what residents might expect in 2021, Lewis isn’t giving away too many details, but did note Santa has confirmed he’ll be there and organizers are excited to once again give him a tour through much of the city.
Anyone looking to be involved in the parade is invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org
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