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Fort Macleod Santa Claus Parade adapts to pandemic

ashley nelson
Ashley Nelson

The COVID-19 pandemic has organizers of the 39th annual Fort Macleod Santa Claus Parade playing catch-up.

The parade committee delayed a decision on whether the parade would go ahead as it watched the COVID-19 pandemic unfold.

As a result, both registration and donations for the parade on Saturday, Nov. 28 are behind compared to previous years.

“We are confident that people are beginning to get excited about participating, and the beautiful forecasted weather for parade day will help too,” parade co-ordinator Ashley Nelson said.

People can register for this year’s “Reverse” parade at santaclausparade@fortmacleod.com.

Donations can be sent by mail to P.O. Box 928, Fort Macleod, T0L 0Z0 or sent by Interac e-transfer.

The Santa Claus Parade will be done in a “reverse” style in order to keep people safe from COVID-19.

Rather than having people gather on the street to view the parade — as is traditionally the format — organizers will have the floats and entries parked along the route.

Spectators are encouraged to drive the parade route in their own vehicles between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in order to view the entries.

To view the parade, vehicles can line up on Second Avenue between 15th and 23rd streets.

Main Street sidewalks will remain open to foot traffic with pedestrians walking the parade route encouraged to flow in the same direction as traffic, east on Main Street beginning from Second Avenue.

Pedestrians are also urged to follow Alberta Health Services instructions to maintain six feet of social distance and wear a mask or face covering.

There will be shuttle busses available in the arena parking lot on 21st Street. Masks will be mandatory on the buses and pre-registration is advised at 403-715-2125. 

The theme of the 2020 Santa Claus Parade is “Hollywood Christmas” in celebration of movies and TV shows filmed recently in Fort Macleod.

Those shows include Ghostbusters 2020: Afterlife, Let Him Go and Fargo.

“A fun new element that we are adding to the parade is that we plan to have cut outs of actors and actresses displayed throughout the parade route — our very own Drive of Fame,” Nelson said. “Spectators can keep an eye out for who they spot along the way and let us know what movie they played in here to enter to win a prize.”

Bands confirmed for the parade are the Bridge City Highlanders Pipes and Drums, and the Cardston and Magrath high school bands.

“Sadly, the big Calgary bands that usually join us will not be practicing together until the new year and are unable to travel down,” Nelson said.

The Troyanda Ukranian Dance Club has confirmed its attendance at the Santa Claus Parade.

There will be no candy given out along the parade route, but Santa’s helpers will be safely handing out goodie bags to the first 2,000 children at the end of the parade.

After a period of concern in the early days of the pandemic, the committee is now confident Fort Macleod will put its nearly four decades of Santa Claus Parade experience to work this month.

“Fort Macleod knows how to do a parade,” Nelson said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that although much different because of these unprecedented times, this is still going to be a fantastic parade.”

“We’ve been through a challenging year together and I’m glad we can offer this sense of normalcy for our community to celebrate and get in the holiday spirit.”

Volunteers who would like to help with traffic control and other duties on parade day can contact Ashley Nelson at santaclausparade@fortmacleod.com or 403-715-2125.

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