Op­ti­mist Santa Pa­rade is com­ing Nov. 18

Tillsonburg News - - FRONT PAGE - Chris Ab­bott

It won’t be long be­fore ‘Santa Claus is com­ing to town!’

Satur­day, Nov. 18th is the an­nual Till­son­burg Op­ti­mist Santa Claus Pa­rade, start­ing at 2 p.m. The pa­rade route, which has not changed in decades, will go up Broad­way to San­ders Street and con­clude at the Till­son­burg Com­mu­nity Cen­tre.

Pa­rade par­tic­i­pants will be­gin to gather in the park­ing lots be­hind Avon­dale Church from 12:30-1 p.m. If you are drop­ping off float/pa­rade par­tic­i­pants, there is a new des­ig­nated ‘drop off ’ area - the post of­fice park­ing lot.

“A lot of the churches bring their chil­dren to go on the floats, the dance stu­dios bring their kids... and we were a lit­tle con­cerned last year be­cause par­ents were driv­ing right in where all the trans­port trucks were pulling in with the floats. It’s a safety con­cern when you’re try­ing to get all this quickly - and safely - staged. So we thought what we re­ally need is a sep­a­rate area where they can drop their chil­dren off, give them a kiss, say ‘have a good time,’ chat with other par­ents if they want, and we don’t have the same con­cerns about trans­port trucks pulling in with flatbed trail­ers.

“So we’re hop­ing we can di­rect peo­ple over there (post of­fice park­ing lot) as the place to drop off. It’s re­ally a big safety is­sue.”

As in years past, Till­son­burg fire­fight­ers start off the Santa Claus Pa­rade, and once again they will be col­lect­ing do­na­tions for the food bank along the route.

“Then it’s the politi­cians, and we try to stage it so that we have some mu­sic, then non-mu­sic floats, then mu­sic,” said Norma Col­lis, chair of the Till­son­burg and Area Op­ti­mist Club Santa Claus Pa­rade, “so that we don’t have com­pet­ing mu­sic.”

Along with lo­cal MP and MPPs, the Op­ti­mists wel­come all of Till­son­burg’s Town Coun­cil to this year’s ‘Canada 150’ Santa Claus pa­rade, which Col­lis calls a ‘pop-up pa­rade’ be­cause pre-reg­is­tra­tion is not re­quired.

“They just show up,” Col­lis smiled. “And some­how it al­ways comes to­gether.

“We hope,” she added with a laugh.

“We never know un­til the day of... it’s al­ways a big sur­prise. We look for­ward to all of the amaz­ing en­tries this year - your cre­ativ­ity and en­thu­si­asm makes this pa­rade an ex­cit­ing event!

“Last year we were just over­whelmed with the re­sponse and the va­ri­ety of peo­ple that came, it’s just amaz­ing,” she said, not­ing last year’s pa­rade even in­cluded a sea­son­ally-dec­o­rated Siemens blade.

Mu­si­cal en­ter­tain­ment will in­clude two new en­try this year - the Wind­sor Young Op­ti­mist March­ing Band and Mark Dick­son’s March­ing Ka­zoo Band.

The Op­ti­mist march­ing band usu­ally doesn’t travel this far, said Col­lis, but they are mak­ing an ex­cep­tion for an Op­ti­mist Santa pa­rade.

“This group does drum lines and other rou­tines and have promised they will do this wher­ever they see crowds gath­ered along the route, par­tic­u­larly in the down­town area.”

For this rea­son, the Op­ti­mists are ask­ing for every­one’s co­op­er­a­tion and not park on Broad­way on Satur­day the 18th af­ter 12 p.m.

“The band would like to use the en­tire width of Broad­way to do their rou­tines.”

Mark Dick­son’s ka­zoo band made it’s first ap­pear­ance at the Op­ti­mist Club’s Canada Day ‘Peo­ple’s Pa­rade’ and they are ramp­ing up for the Santa pa­rade with a cou­ple of pre-pa­rade prac­tices. Forty­four ka­zoos were do­nated for this event, so if you would like to join the ka­zoo fun, con­tact Dick­son at mdick­sondc@gmail.com. All ages wel­come.

“He (Mark Dick­son) is quite en­thu­si­as­tic,” said Col­lis. “It means a lot of peo­ple that maybe or­di­nar­ily couldn’t or wouldn’t be in the pa­rade, have an op­por­tu­nity. Grab a ka­zoo and away you go. As long as you can hum - you just hum into it - you can play a ka­zoo. Once you catch on that you don’t blow into it, it’s re­ally easy.”

Fa­mil­iar favourites will in­clude the Inger­soll Pipe Band and Tomato Soup Band, Un­cle Heavy’s Pork Chop Band, and the Golden Harps Steel Drum Band.

Last year’s pa­rade ran about 45 min­utes from fire­fight­ers to Santa Claus and the Op­ti­mists an­tic­i­pate at least that many floats this year.

“We’re hear­ing ru­mours of ad­di­tional floats and that’s great,” said Col­lis. “I think it will grow each year.”

Along the route this year, Till­son­burg Dis­trict Me­mo­rial Hospi­tal vol­un­teers, who are ac­tively re­cruit­ing more vol­un­teers, will be hand­ing out candy. Spec­ta­tors are asked to wait on the curb for the candy - do not go onto the street.

“Stand on the curb, most of the floats will have peo­ple walk­ing on the street as well, and they will walk over and give out candy. We don’t want peo­ple dash­ing out onto the street.”

New this year, Santa’s elves will be col­lect­ing Let­ters to Santa along the route.

“We ask that all spec­ta­tors wish­ing to con­tact Santa by mail, please wait on the side­walk for the elves to come to you. Just wave the let­ter and the elves will come over to you.”

Donuts and drinks will be avail­able at the Up­per Deck Youth Cen­tre be­fore and af­ter the pa­rade for pa­rade par­tic­i­pants, dou­bling as a ‘warm up’ cen­tre.

“Mem­bers of the BIA have some sur­prises planned as well,” said Col­lis. “We hope that you will check out our town’s busi­nesses both be­fore and af­ter the pa­rade.”

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