Thousands bundle up for Santa’s Parade of Lights
Wind chill doesn’t keep Orléans families away
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."
Floats rolled down St. Joseph Blvd. for Orléans’ annual Parade of Lights.