By Sue Tiffin
Santa Claus is coming back to town.
Beginning at 11 a.m. on Nov. 20, the Minden Hills Santa Claus Parade will take place as it usually has, moving through the streets of Minden.
Initially, the parade was announced as a drive-thru event, in which floats would be stationary at the fairgrounds and spectators would remain in their cars while driving from float to float. Similar drive-thru events happened throughout Ontario last year, including in Haliburton at a community Christmas party hosted by the Rotary Club of Haliburton and Curry Chevrolet Buick GMC Ltd., and in Coboconk where 500 vehicles drove down “Christmas Lane” on Albert Street.
Then, when there was pushback from the community noting that some residents might not have access to vehicles, a time for those to walk through Minden’s parade prior to vehicles driving through was added to the schedule. Now, a change again – the traditional parade is taking place.
“It’s literally been an evolving process for the last couple of months,” said Elisha Weiss, community development co-ordinator.
Event organizers began planning for Minden’s parade this year in June, organizing a drive-thru parade hoping pandemic gathering restrictions would be lifted, rather than scrambling to reorganize a traditional parade into a drive-thru event in one spot if crowds could continue to not gather. A drive-thru parade was planned based on what other towns had done last year, and it had been approved and announced just a week or two before the provincial government lifted capacity limits for organized outdoor events.
“Now a regular parade is happening,” said Weiss. “It was a little crazy. Luckily, going from a drive-thru to a regular parade is way easier.”
Interest in participating also increased, with more floats entering the parade once news spread it would be in its usual form, said Weiss.
“It’s a hard concept to get your head wrapped around,” she said. “What are we doing? We’re standing, and people are driving?”
Weiss said people being together, while socially distanced, offers more of a “community feeling than being in your own car, driving by the floats.”
Those participating in the parade will be asked to stay to their floats rather than mingle with other participants, not throw candy, and wear masks if they’re not part of a social bubble, and the parade ad from the township asks that those participating “please maintain distance from others during the parade.”
As in previous years, the parade starts at the curling club and fairgrounds parking lot, travels up 55 Parkside Street, turns left onto Bobcaygeon Road, carries on over the bridge and through main street and then turns left onto Newcastle Street and left onto St. Germaine Street to end in the municipal parking lot.
Santa Claus will be accepting letters and greeting kids outdoors after the parade at the Christmas in the Village event being held at the Minden Hills Cultural Centre. That event too will no longer have a limit on visitors.
Planning for a parade during the pandemic has been frustrating, but Weiss is pleased that the event can happen this year after it was cancelled in 2020.
“You just know that, planning anything in COVID times, it’s bound to change within a week anyway, so you just really have to be flexible and try and adapt if you can, as much as you can,” said Weiss. “I’m just happy the restrictions lifted and we were able to finally do this.”
She said she’s sure Santa Claus is excited to return, too.
Haliburton is also hosting a parade this year, on Nov. 26.
Minden’s event is one Weiss said she hopes will bring Christmas spirit.
“This always kind of marks the kick-off to the holiday season,” she said. “Last year was kind of grim, so hopefully this year can bring some joy to people and be a better holiday season for everybody.”
Those interested in entering a float into Minden’s parade can contact Elisha at email@example.com or visit www.mindenhills.ca/events/.