Santa greets a young guest during a photo opportunity after last year’s Santa parade. A corporate sponsor saved the parade that was slated to be cancelled this Decemeber. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News)

Santa’s coming to town: Casino Mining Corp. fronts cash for parade

‘We’re not doing an event for free’

It looks like Santa Claus will be coming to town after all.

Casino Mining Corporation announced Oct. 23 that it would donate $4,000 to help bail out the Santa Claus parade, which was slated to be cancelled unless funds could be found by the end of the month.

While still not enough to run the entire festival, Dean Tower, president of Unlikely Events Yukon (UEY) — the not-for-profit which has run the parade since 1994 —said it was “enough to get us started,” and that the UEY team was “confident” it could make it work from there.

“Casino Mines really came to the rescue this weekend,” Tower said.

The money is enough to pay performers, purchase insurance for the event at a cost of between $500 and $800, and to pay for someone to drum up more money through corporate sponsorships, said artistic director Angela Drainville.

The trouble began at the end of August, when UEY received word it had been denied its usual grant request from the Department of Tourism and Culture. This year, however, the application was deemed “incomplete,” said Jonathan Parker, director of policy and communications for the department.

UEY was invited to apply for the next intake, with a deadline of Sept. 15, Drainville said.

Tower had previously said UEY had applied by that deadline, but the department said it had no paperwork from the group. Drainville said UEY did not apply for Sept. 15.

“The Sept. 15 deadline was just too late,” she said.

The department suggested UEY apply for the Dec. 15 deadline and hold the parade later. That’s impractical, Drainville said.

“Funders need to understand the timing of things more broadly…. The Santa Claus parade isn’t something you can move,” she said. “It’s a Christmas parade. It’s got to be held in that time frame.”

“If I apply in December, I might not know (if funding is approved) until February.”

Tower said UEY “kind of assumed” the city would step in. But in a meeting, Mayor Dan Curtis told Drainville the city had no event funding left for the parade.

Acting city manager Linda Rapp said $1,000 is available for the 2017 parade as long as UEY files some missing paperwork.

Tower said he wanted the city to commit to more funding for the 2018 event to the tune of $4,000. Council approved a total of $3,100 in cash and in-kind funding for the 2018 parade at the Oct. 23 regular council meeting.

Drainville said Oct. 24 that UEY will file the missing paperwork. Tower previously told the News that all of UEY’s paperwork was in order.

“There are all kinds of groups coming to (the city) at the last minute looking for funds,” said Coun. Roslyn Woodcock at the Oct. 23 council meeting. “I’m not in favour of that. We have a process for a reason.”

Curtis said he felt there was a lot of “misinformation reported” from UEY.

Tower had previously told the News UEY needed at least $7,500 in order to make the parade happen, a number substantially higher than the number he quoted to other media outlets. When asked about the discrepancy, Tower said he “didn’t know why” he had done that and that it might be because he had spoken to them “at different times.”

Tower said UEY is not in any financial difficulty.

“We’re in really good shape, but we aren’t doing a job for free,” Tower said.

“We are still going to go after the city and try to get more sponsors,” Tower said. “We still need more money.”

With the $4,000 donated by Casino, the $1,000 from the city and some fundraising done by UEY over the weekend — Drainville even waived her pay to support the parade — they are still short $2,900. Drainville said she was confident that amount could be made up through corporate sponsorships.

UEY said in a Oct. 23 press release that Winterval, including the parade, is scheduled to take place Dec. 9, “pending approval from the city of Whitehorse.” It will include a tree lighting ceremony, crafts, kids activities and free photos with Santa at the MacBride Museum.

Contact Lori Fox at lori.fox@yukon-news.com

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