By Jessica Lovell
In spite of a busy holiday schedule, Santa Claus is making time for Guelph, but his appearance in the city might look a little different this year.
The big man flies into town for the Santa Claus parade this Sunday at 1:30 p.m., but he won’t be arriving in his sleigh.
“Santa’s too busy; he has to keep working, so he’s bringing his workshop to Guelph,” says Mike Campbell of the Ariss Lions Club, which is in charge of the Santa float for the Guelph Community Santa Claus Parade.
And, instead of riding in his sleigh, Old St. Nick will instead be in his office, hard at work checking and rechecking his list. A small army of elves will be running back and forth between Santa’s float and another, from Old Quebec Street, featuring the elves’ workshop, where they will get the gifts ready to be packed into Santa’s sleigh.
“It’s going to pick up the pace of the parade,” says Campbell, who hopes the kids will get a kick out of the new theme. “It makes the day just fantastic, all those smiling kids,” he says.
Santa’s float is not the only change parade-goers can expect. With the Downtown Guelph Business Association hosting for the second year in a row, a few changes have been implemented with an eye toward making the parade better than ever.
The route will be slightly different from last year, when construction prevented the floats from making their way past Carden Street.
But it will make its familiar path through the downtown, starting from London Road, heading south on Norfolk Street to Quebec Street, east on Quebec to Wyndham Street, and south on Wyndham to finish at the train tracks just beyond Carden.
Sam Jewel, events co-ordinator with the business association, recommends that people get to the parade route in time for the start, so they won’t miss the disco band that will open the parade.
One more change this year: The city’s youngest residents – anyone under age nine – will not be marching.
“We have set an age limit for kids walking in the parade for safety reasons,” says Jewel. The association researched other parades and sought the advice of the city and the Guelph Police before setting the limit.
“We hope people understand that we do not want to prevent people taking part and will help them to be in the parade as best we can, but safety has to be our first priority,” says Jewel.
But a few things have not changed. Marching bands will still be a staple of the parade – there will be eight this year – and, as in previous years, the Guelph Food Bank will be collecting non-perishable food items and Canada Post will be collecting letters to Santa.
“There is still so much tradition with the parade that we are embracing,” says Jewel.
Those who don’t want to brave the chilly weather to watch the parade from the sidelines can tune in to Rogers TV, Cable 20, to see the parade live at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Or if they miss the 2 p.m. broadcast, there will be a repeat broadcast at 6 p.m., and two encore presentations on Nov. 24 at 1 p.m. and Nov. 25 at 2 p.m.
“This is one of the largest and most anticipated events of the year,” said station manager Charles Wechsler in a news release. “Not everyone is able to make it downtown to see the parade in person, so TV coverage is a great opportunity to still be part of the event.
The program will be hosted by Rogers’ Trish Stevenson and Trevor Prior, and Julie Bulyovsky will join the broadcast from street level, chatting with spectators as they await the arrival of Jolly Old St. Nick.
Additional presentations of the Guelph Community Santa Claus Parade will air throughout December and will be posted at www.rogerstv.com.