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Parade co-ordinator sets things up for Santa


New Fort Macleod Santa Claus Parade co-ordinator Sue Risser can hardly wait until Saturday, Nov. 27.
That’s the day of Fort Macleod’s 29th annual Santa Claus parade – this year with the theme Cowboy Christmas.
“I was excited when I heard this year’s theme because I know that we southern Albertans take pride in our western heritage,” Risser said. “I look forward to seeing our town decked out in true southern Alberta style. The 29th annual Santa Claus parade promises a lot of fun, great music, floats that are a treat to the eye, and of course, the big guy, the star of show, everyone’s favourite: Santa!”
Risser has already started preparations for the big day that marks the beginning of the Christmas season for hundreds of people who come into Fort Macleod to watch the parade.
“There is so much to this job – booking the bands, booking the parade entrants, making sure signage is complete, taking care of the financial end of donations,” Risser explained. “I am the contact person for anything that has to do with the Santa Claus parade and tree lighting.But I must say, the best part of this job is I sort of feel like one of Santa’s elves as I get to watch the gift of the parade form from the beginning, and the community gets to unwrap it on the 27th of November.”
Risser was born and raised in Fort Macleod. After spending several years in Rocky Mountain House she returned to her hometown in 2007 and now works as a mortgage broker for Dominion Lending Centres.
“I love this job because I get to help people purchase homes, but it also allows me the freedom to become more involved in the community, such as volunteering with Citizens On Patrol, working with the United Church, and now, co-ordinating the Santa Claus Parade,” Risser said. “I have the joy of doing all of these things at the same time.”
Risser is no stranger to involvement in the Santa Claus parade.
“The Santa Claus parade has always been a part of my life,” Risser said. “My parents have been involved in the parade since the very beginning. Typically it’s the Lions and Lionesses who marshal the parade, and so my father (Lions member Bob Train) has helped marshal the parade for as long as I can remember. My husband and I followed family tradition and helped marshal the parade numerous times, even when we lived in Rocky Mountain House, and I’ll tell you what, this parade has always been worth driving four hours for.”
The parade is sustained entirely by donations through corporate sponsorship, individual donations and community donation boxes. It’s great community support like this – all the people who back the parade with their wallets as well as those who help put the parade together – that make the parade what it is, Risser said.
“It’s pretty amazing that for 28 years, this year being the 29th, Fort Macleod has put on a parade of this caliber.”
Risser said she feels like she’s joining a well-established team of people who deserve a lot of credit for the parade’s continuing success. She said her job would be an impossible task without the Santa Claus parade committee.
“This committee has it down pat,” Risser said. “They know their job; without them this would not be possible, they are amazing.” Risser also spoke highly of previous parade coordinators who have given her a lot of support. “I have big shoes to fill: Jana Pansky, Eileen Moses and Gord MacIvor,” Risser said. “These people have been so helpful in teaching me the ropes and are a wealth of knowledge.”
There’s still a lot of work to do to get ready for this year’s parade, and Risser is looking for volunteer ‘elves’ to help out, although she said there are many who already know their job and do it faithfully year after year.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of this parade,” Risser said. “We need volunteers for numerous jobs; we need people to carry banners, signs, volunteers to feed the bands, volunteers to carry the red donation buckets during the parade, and many other jobs. Anyone interested please contact me via telephone, email or in person.”
Risser works varying hours out of the Main Street Office. She can be contacted at 403-715-2125 or by e-mail at santaclausparade@fortmacleod.com.

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