Learning from other cities, St. Thomas drive-thru Santa Parade hopes to go off without a hitch
LONDON, ONT -- St. Thomas Santa Claus parade organizers are hoping to perfect the drive-through parade format when the 'Man in Red' comes to town next weekend.
Elgin-Middlesex-London (EML) MPP Jeff Yurek, and EML MP Karen Vecchio announced Saturday detailed plans for a drive-through reverse parade called 'The Thrill of Hope'.
"The Thrill of Hope has been approved by the Health Unit it's going to be a safe event driving in,' says Yurek.
The event will take place at Pinafore Park for three days on December 4,5,6 from 4-9pm.
"The last seven months a lot of events have been cancelled. We had to cancel Thanksgiving and Christmas is going to be reduced. We want to get that Christmas spirit going."
When London, Ont. held its first drive-through parade it wasn't without some hiccups.
Only having a three-hour window, the traffic became so congested near the site that many people either were turned away or left on their own knowing they weren't going to get in.
Others were not able to attend as no public transportation was available to the London International Airport.
Vecchio and Yurek wanted to make sure that didn't happen in St. Thomas.
Police will be on Elm Street to help with traffic flow.
"By spreading it over three nights we feel that's one way that we are going to ensure that people will enjoy the displays and see Santa," says Vecchio.
"We'll also have a shuttle available for people who don't have vehicles. They can come here to CASO station and we will make sure there is safe and sanitized transportation."
They will have multiple school buses at CASO each night and there will even be a bus stationed at Pinafore Park for those who walk to the park. No walkers are allowed in the park during these hours next weekend.
"We have been working closely with city of St. Thomas and St. Thomas police to make sure they are entering one way, and turning right out of Pinafore Park," says Vecchio.
The event will be similar to the former Fantasy of Lights which was at the park until 2015.
"People looked forward to Optimist Parade," says Earl Taylor, representing the St. Thomas Optimist Club.
"The parade signified the beginning of Christmas, and this is the 35th year that Santa has come for the parade. We had contacted the folks that participated in parade, and many of them are setting up displays on the route in the park. Some others are coming from out of town to participate because this is a unique special event for St. Thomas."
The Optimist Club and the St. Thomas Fire Department are asking those attending to bring non-perishable food items that can be distributed by local agencies through the winter.