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No Santa Claus parade in Edmonton for 2019, Leduc parade prepares for more attendees

A float travels through downtown Edmonton in the 2016 Santa's Parade of Lights. Edmonton in the 2016 Santa's Parade of Lights.
A float travels through downtown Edmonton in the 2016 Santa's Parade of Lights. Edmonton in the 2016 Santa's Parade of Lights. Credit: Santa's Parade of Lights

A holiday tradition will not take place in downtown Edmonton this year after a major drop in sponsorship and lack of interest led to the cancellation of the Santa’s Parade of Lights.

“There was no support,” said Richard Skermer, the CEO of RWE Events, which had produced the parade. “We ended up producing it ourselves [in previous years] and building a lot of the floats ourselves.

“It was like beating our heads against a brick wall to get any sort of participation for it.”

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Skermer said that last year, RWE Events ended up having to build nearly all of the floats in the parade and there was no business interest in sponsoring one.

“We made it as easy as we possibly could for people,” he said Wednesday. “We had professional decorators that we hired. All you had to do is say, ‘I want a float,’ and we would have built it for you.”

READ MORE: Santa’s Parade of Lights to take over downtown Edmonton

RWE announced it was pulling out of the parade planning in March after it didn’t hear back from several downtown businesses and organizations. In previous years, the event had been sponsored by Canadian Tire. However, that company also pulled out and now sponsors Magic of Lights at Castrol Raceway. 

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“The actual citizenry loved it,” Skermer said.

“We need people to want to build a float, to come on in to actually participate in the parade.”

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A representative from the City of Edmonton confirmed to Global News that there were no applications for a Santa parade in the city for 2019.

Confusion about what happened to the parade has been evident online. A recent blog post on the website for Christmas Glow, a light festival taking place in Edmonton this year, said that the Edmonton Parade of Lights would “join forces” with Leduc to host a massive parade on Saturday.

However, Skermer said RWE has “zero” involvement in the Leduc parade.

The actual organizers of the Leduc parade — the Leduc Downtown Business Association — said they are only sponsored by Leduc-based businesses, but welcome any Edmontonians who would like to enjoy some Christmas festivities.

“We were not aware that Edmonton was not having a parade this year,” said Ashley Berndt, downtown co-ordinator at the Leduc Downtown Business Association.

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“However, at this stage in the game… as far as permits go and extending our parade, that wouldn’t be possible.”

While the Leduc parade will go ahead as initially planned, Berndt said she believes that there’s plenty of cheer to go around. This year will showcase at least 40 floats, Santa photos, hot chocolate, smores, hot dogs and carolers — all free for attendees.

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Berndt said there are multiple parking lots surrounding the parade route, which takes place in Leduc on Main Street (50 Avenue) on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. Pre-parade activities kick off on the street at 6 p.m.

READ MORE: Decorating Christmas stockings for Edmonton inner-city seniors

“If we do receive confirmation for next year that Edmonton won’t be hosting a parade, that would definitely be considered, to expand the parade,” Berndt said.

However, Skermer said that he hopes Edmontonians can come together and rally for a parade next year.

“If everybody wants [us] to come back, we’d love to produce it,” he said. “We could do it on Whyte Avenue, we could do it downtown, we could do it somewhere in Edmonton.

“But we actually need more people to want it.”

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There is more information on the Leduc parade on the event’s official website. 

Massive Christmas tree lit up in downtown Edmonton
Massive Christmas tree lit up in downtown Edmonton