The anticipation is building for the biggest parade of the year when the annual Santa Claus Parade promenades through downtown on Nov. 17.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will once again fly in early to the 100 Mile Airport, so families are encouraged to “bring the kiddies and the cameras” for Santa’s meet-and-greet when they arrive at 4 p.m., flown in courtesy of Cariboo Air, says parade organizer Janet Lilly.
The parade kicks off the Christmas holiday spirit in 100 Mile House, leading up to two other major annual events that follow the same evening – Moonlight Madness and Starry Nights.
Moonlight Madness is the community’s shopping sale event of the season, while Starry Nights, the South Cariboo Health Hospital Foundation’s dazzling display of lights offers wonders to see and enjoy, with hot chocolate to warm up the children.
Lilly says this season’s Santa parade will see over 40 floats and tons of fun floats participating in the parade, with the usual hundreds of spectators expected to enjoy the festivities.
The parade gets underway at 5:30 p.m., while shortly before that the RCMP will be escorting Santa and Mrs. Claus onto their float outside the airport, and then along to the parade mustering point at Save-On-Foods.
The downtown core will close earlier this year, at 4:30 p.m., to both traffic and parking along Birch Avenue and will stay closed for about two hours, as well as the rest of the planned route along Fifth Street to Cedar Avenue, to allow the parade set up and take place.
It’s never the same parade as any held before – folks can expect to see plenty of new floats as well as other special surprises, toys and goodies for the children, she explains.
There are five trophies to be handed out afterward as chosen by the parade judges in the categories of Best Effort by a Walking Group, Best Representation of the Theme Commercial, Best Representation of the Theme Non-Commercial, Best Effort by an Individual and Best Effort by a School.
“It’s going to be a fun night. We’ve got lots of things going on downtown that night.”
There will be two or three food trucks parked around the parade route, as well as other vendors of all sorts downtown during the first night of a two-day Christmas Market held by the South Cariboo Farmers’ Market at the 100 Mile Community Hall, she adds.
Lilly says also new this year will be carolling groups, intermingling alongside the floats sure to join in the festive music, and stationary carolers heralding Christmas over at the hall.
It all winds up by 7 p.m. at Cedar Avenue, and immediately afterward the Starry Nights Toy Land festivities begin at the 100 Mile District General Hospital parking lot. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there with their float, and other entertaining activities happening for the children to delight in, while the magical light-up adds awe-inspiring sparkle to the season.
On an organizational note, Lilly says by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17, the roads will be closed, and anyone still parked on Birch or elsewhere along the parade stretch of roadways will be asked to immediately leave downtown, or to move into the parking lots, where they will stay until it reopens at about 6:30 p.m. (once the parade is through and the blockades removed).
“I did notice last year there were a lot of people parked on the road and trying to watch the parade, so we are really trying to not have that this year. The problem is the streets are narrow to begin with and when you get all the floats and what-not, it is a bit hectic for the float drivers.”
Lilly says a few volunteers have been organized to go through the route asking drivers to go, and dropping off flyers on empty vehicles, in hopes it won’t be an issue this time to keep roadways clear and safe for the floats and spectators.
Meanwhile, she reminds young families and grandparents “don’t forget to bring the kiddies and the cameras” to welcome Santa and Mrs. Claus when they fly in earlier at 4 p.m. at the airport on Wrangler Way, west of the South Cariboo Visitor Centre, just off Highway 97 in 100 Mile House.