Construction of the city’s first “flex street” on Dundas Street has forced organizers of London Santa Claus Parade, now in its 62nd edition, to create a little detour as the parade gets into the downtown core.
The parade will get underway at 6 p.m., going west on Dundas Street from Egerton Street. It will then head north on Wellington to Queens Avenue, where it will turn west again to Ridout Street.
“We have had to (change the route) due to construction about three or four times over the last 10 years, so we are getting pretty used to it,” said Shaun Merton, the parade’s executive director, about the route changes for this year’s parade.
Merton said this year’s edition, whose theme is “A Christmas to Remember,” will have plenty of entertainment for families, including bands, dance groups and 37 floats.
During the event, organizers will be collecting non-perishable items for the London Food Bank and new teddy bears, which will be donated to the Salvation Army’s toy drive.
The annual Toonie toss also will be taking place this year, with the money collected used to cover some of the costs of the parade.
Though some people have expressed concerns about the parade taking place ahead of Remembrance Day, Merton said it always has been held on the second Saturday of the month since its inception in 1956.
“Last year, we held the parade a week after because it fell on Remembrance Day and it caused us a lot of the grief,” Merton said.
“We lost sponsors, we lost bands and we lost entertainment because these things are booked a year in advance,” he said.
People planning to attend the parade should probably wear warm clothes, as Environment Canada is forecasting a windy day with a daytime high of 2 C.
To kick off the holiday season, children and families can watch Santa Claus make appearances at the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside and Eastfield Mall in Springfield in the coming days.
He will arrive at the Holyoke Mall on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 10 a.m.; and at the Eastfield Mall on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 11 a.m.
“We want to welcome Santa and kick off the holiday season with a free family-friendly event,” Lisa Wray, director of marketing at the Holyoke Mall, said.
Santa Claus will be arriving via a Holyoke Fire Department engine and will be escorted by the Holyoke High School Marching Band to his photo set in Cafe Square.
The fun doesnt stop there. Following St. Nicks appearance, free face painting, a balloon artist, giveaways, complimentary cocoa, and raffles prizes with Mix 93.1 will be available.
Everyones favorite jolly gift-giver will also be stopping by the Eastfield Mall a week later to continue his annual “Santas Arrival Parade.”
Nicole Sweeny, co-property manager of the Eastfield Mall, has described it as a “way to welcome Santa back into the mall for the holiday season.”
The Ludlow High School Marching Band will help guide Rudolph the red nose reindeer to lead a parade of the areas children, dance schools, community groups, and Santa Claus in his very own special Santa mobile through the Eastfield mall.
The parade will conclude at Santas East Springfield headquarters, which is in the malls center court.
Anyone interested in participating in the parade can to do so by lining up with the parade marchers at the conclusion of the Hannoush corridor between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.