Santa set to arrive in November
After a lengthy hiatus, the second Santa Claus parade in two years will march down Central to kick off the Christmas shopping season
Christmas classics The Year Without a Santa Claus and Santa Claus is Coming to Town imagine an alternate reality without Kris Kringle.
For several years, that was a lived reality revellers in P.A. hoping to catch a glimpse of the big man on his sleigh cruising the downtown on parade.
Last year, the Gateway Mall and the Prince Albert Downtown Business Improvement District (PADBID) changed that, bringing back the beloved tradition.
This year, Santa will return once more.
Before the parade went on hiatus, it was a much-loved Christmas tradition.
“When it disappeared, there was all kinds of people disappointed,” said PADBID executive director Rick Orr.
“Last year when it returned, there seemed to be an instant excitement about it.”
Orr recounted his parade experience from last year. He was not yet involved with PADBID, but he and his wife headed downtown to take in the festivities. They parked behind the CIBC and walked out to the street.
“It was pugged,” Orr said.
“People started to come the last half hour and just take over the street. The thing I noticed was everyone had smiles on their faces. Kids were laughing and cheering.”
The warm weather helped draw large crowds last year, as unseasonably warm temperatures provided a comfortable climate for sitting out on Central.
Regardless of the turnout, the mall knew it was an event they would continue into 2017.
“We just wanted to do it,” said Donna Hordyski, marketing coordinator at Gateway Mall.
“It was a given. There were no ifs, ands ors or buts. If it had been 35 below last year, we would still be doing it again this year.”
The parade marks a joyous time for the mall and its tenants. It’s the official arrival of Santa to Prince Albert and to the mall, the kickoff of the busy Christmas shopping season.
“It helps us to continue being Prince Albert’s community shopping centre,” Hordyski said. “It brings us to the forefront of being community-minded, and, along with the downtown association and the casino, being good community citizens.”
The parade is an exciting event for PADBID as well. It brings people downtown where they can visit nearby vendors or enjoy a hot beverage.
“From our board’s point of view, there was such positive feedback from the merchants and the public, we hoped we could do it again,” Orr said.
“It’s time to come out and get thinking Santa.”
The casino joined on to the parade this year as a major sponsor. It will be providing candy bags for children, a mascot, volunteers and maybe even a float.
Several other organizations have also already expressed interest in joining this year’s parade.
That’s why PADBID wanted to get the word out now – to give participants time to prepare their entries into the 2017 parade.
“I’ve had a lot of interest just this past week from organizations wanting to get involved,” said Lorri Wiberg, office administrator and event coordinator.
She said about 15 organizations have expressed interest. She expects more to sign on as the weather gets colder and Christmas begins to creep nearer.
For Orr, a strong showing at the Santa parade is a sign of even bigger winter events to come.
“We’re hoping in future years we can have more festive events downtown,” he said.
“In past years there have been winter fests, one year they had sleigh rides — these are things we might be looking at in the future. Having the parade allows people to start thinking of things they’d like to do to encourage people to come down and enjoy our downtown.”
Hordyski, who had Santa’s ear during a Christmas in July event, said the big man’s excited too.
“He’s very keenly aware of what we are doing to promote the event for children, and for the citizens of Prince Albert.”
The November 25 parade lines up at 9:30 a.m. on River Street and begins at 10:30 and heads down Central to 14th Street East.
For more information about the parade, call Donna at the Gateway Mall or Lorri at the PADBID office.
Santa’s parade will roll through P.A. again this winter.