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Santa Claus Parade lags in volunteers, donations

Sue Risser is hopeful Fort Macleod residents get into the Christmas spirit before the Santa Claus Parade arrives Saturday, Nov. 24.
Right now people are downright Grinch-like in their support for the town’s biggest event of the year.
“Right now we are in desperate, desperate need of banner carriers,” said Risser, who is Santa Claus Parade co-ordinator.
Risser told Fort Macleod Chamber of Commerce members Thursday at their monthly meeting that just three people have volunteered to carry banners.
Parade organizers will need 40 to 50 volunteers for all the banners that are to be displayed.
“Just getting those volunteers out there is really difficult,” Risser said.
Two volunteers are needed for every banner
“We are working on some things and we are waiting to hear back from some groups but as it stands today we are not prepared,” Risser said. “We go through this every year — every single year.”
Registration to enter the parade is also slow.
Just 45 registrations have been recorded including the nine bands. Last year there were more than 100 entries in the parade.
“We have a long way to go to meet last year’s total,” Risser said. “We’re really hoping that businesses put floats in and join the parade.”
Organizers are urging people to register their entries before the week prior to the parade on Nov. 24.
“We’re not going to turn anybody away, but we do like to organize the parade,” Risser said.
One of the reasons the parade must be organized in advance is the presence of nine bands.
Due to concerns about the bands spooking horses and having as much distance as possible between the bands, advance organization is critical.
“There is some organization that goes into it,” Risser said.
There is no cost to put an entry in the Santa Claus Parade.
Another area of concern is that donations are down about $5,000 from the same time last year.
“You can’t blame people for tightening up the purse strings right now, but it costs a lot of money to put on this parade,” Risser said.
The Santa Claus Parade operates on a budget of about $30,000 a year, with the cost of hosting the bands the biggest expense.
Parade organizers pay transportation expenses for the bands, and arrange to have the musicians fed.
Although there is plenty of support within the community for hosting the bands, their presence remains a big expense.
“It is very, very costly to bring in these bands,” Risser said.
New this year is a breakfast in the empty lot at the corner of Third Avenue and Main Street.
The Calgary Stampede is bringing its breakfast wagon. Sausages and pancakes will be served from 9-10:30 a.m.
Volunteers from the A-T Children’s Project will staff the breakfast and split the proceeds with the Santa Claus Parade.
Anyone interested in volunteering to carry a banner can call Sue Risser at 403-715-2125 or Sidney Tobler at 403-359-4152.

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