Thou­sands bun­dle up for Santa’s Pa­rade of Lights

Wind chill doesn’t keep Or­léans fam­i­lies away

Orleans Star - - LOCAL NEWS - Cather­ine Kitts Cather­ Twit­ter @catkitts

It was al­most as if Santa him­self con­jured up the city’s first flur­ries for Or­léans’ an­nual Pa­rade of Lights that took place in the east end, on Nov.24.

Thou­sands of fam­i­lies lined St. Joseph Blvd. as home­made floats lit up the sub­urb’s main drag.

"Gen­er­ally speak­ing I’m so very happy with what was an amaz­ing day and evening," said Pa­rade Chair­man Bob Rain­both. "The spirit and the ex­cite­ment of the whole day was over­whelm­ing."

The Ot­tawa Pro­fes­sional Fire­fight­ers As­so­ci­a­tion puts on the an­nual event and al­lows up to 75 en­tries in the pa­rade, which Rain­both says seems to be the "magic num­ber."

Or­léans res­i­dent Emily Miller brought her young fam­ily for the first time, “Last year, I thought my son might have been a lit­tle too young to sit through it. But, when I told him Santa was mak­ing an early visit he couldn’t stop talk­ing about it.”

Wind chill drop­ping tem­per­a­tures to -8°C didn’t keep fam­i­lies away, with or­ga­niz­ers es­ti­mat­ing at­ten­dance was around 130,000.

"It started out as a chal­leng­ing day," ad­mits Rain­both. "The cold and bit­ter wind was hard dur­ing the set up. But, even with that peo­ple pushed through, went and got their cof­fee and hot choco­late, and by 6 p.m. the tem­per­a­ture set­tled and the pa­rade rolled beau­ti­fully down St. Joseph Blvd."

Toys and cash do­na­tions were col­lected by fire­fight­ers along the pa­rade route. Although fi­nal to­tals hadn’t been cal­cu­lated at the time of publi­ca­tion, Rain­both said the Mar­shalls that col­lected were talk­ing about how many bills they saw and heavy boots they car­ried.

The floats that were submitted by dif­fer­ent com­mu­nity groups, busi­nesses and schools pa­raded in front of a judg­ing site lo­cated at the cor­ner of St-Joseph Blvd. and Or­léans Blvd.

What was most im­pres­sive, this year, says Rain­both, was how much ef­fort the dif­fer­ent area schools put into their floats.

École Le Pre­lude won best school, École Sec­ondaire Garneau came away with best high school and Cairine Wil­son High School was crowned Grand Cham­pion.

"It was all stu­dent-led," ex­plained Rain­both. "The idea and con­cept, the kids just took the ball and ran with it. That’s some­thing to be said for those stu­dents. It takes a lot to put in an en­try and to win the grand prize, well, that really shows how much ef­fort was put in."

A post pa­rade re­cep­tion was held to award the win­ners of each cat­e­gory a tro­phy and plaque at the TD Canada Trust branch at St-Joseph Blvd. and Or­léans Blvd., yes­ter­day.

With some odd 200 vol­un­teers, and meet­ings al­ready in the works for next year’s pa­rade, Rain­both says the day’s great­est ac­com­plish­ment is al­ways see­ing ev­ery­thing run smoothly.

"It does come with a lot of work and ef­fort and it’s a lot of peo­ple coming to­gether. That’s the best part about it."

Pho­tos: Cather­ine Kitts

Floats rolled down St. Joseph Blvd. for Or­léans’ an­nual Pa­rade of Lights.

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