It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Barrie.
A 30-foot-tall Christmas tree now stands at the base of Meridian Place in the city’s downtown core.
The enormous Norway spruce was sourced from Drysdale’s Tree Farm in Egbert, Ont., and installed on Monday afternoon in preparation for the annual Santa Claus Parade and tree-lighting ceremony scheduled for this weekend.
The official tree-lighting celebration will begin at Meridian Place at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, with the annual Santa Claus Parade scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.
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The parade will march downtown, ending at Meridian Place sometime after 5:30 p.m. When the parade arrives, the giant tree will be lit up with approximately 18,000 low-draw LED lights.
Since its opening this summer, Meridian Place has hosted several events and become the hub of community gatherings in the city.
According to Craig Stevens, managing director of the Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA), the square was designed with the holidays in mind.
“Part of the design process of the square was to have a Christmas tree. We wanted to make it special for this time of year so the location was preset, and there’s electrical set up to support it, and to see it up in real life is pretty amazing,” he said.
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Sarah Taylor has been the chair of the Barrie Santa Claus Parade for three years now. She says the parade is made possible through a partnership between the Barrie Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Barrie BIA, the Rotary Club of Barrie and the City of Barrie.
“We all come together and put it together,” she said. “It’s all about bringing magic to the city.”
Taylor says she is excited that families have a place to gather to enjoy the festivities this year.
“With the bandstand here at Meridian Place, it gives a place for the families to sit down. This is going to be such an exciting event with the lighting of the Christmas tree and having all the families able to be here and see all the lights. Families will have a place to gather,” she said. “It’s really exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing the looks on all the kids’ faces when they see it.”
This year, the theme of the parade is “Christmas Past, Present and Future.” So far, Taylor says 53 floats have signed up to participate.
The parade and tree-lighting ceremony will also officially kick off the beginning of the Noella Festival in downtown Barrie. The festival will run from Nov. 17 to Dec. 31 and include a number of festive activities for families to enjoy throughout the holiday season.
More information about the annual Barrie Santa Claus Parade, including its route, can be found on the Barrie Chamber of Commerce website.