An organizer of two Santa Claus Parades in Saint John confirmed the community is moving forward with plans to hold traditional parades this year.
The parades are a popular annual feature of holiday season. The Saint John parade starts uptown and snakes its way to the city’s north end. The Lancaster parade covers the west side.
Blaine Harris, administrator of the Saint John and Lancaster Santa Claus Parades, said an application for approval has been submitted to the City of Saint John, with the hope of holding the Saint John Parade on Nov. 14th and the Lancaster Parade on Nov. 21.
“With the (organizing) committee, we’ve talked about the safety protocols and what needs to be done,” Harris said. “What we need to advise participants, what we need to advise the public and our insurance company gave us some information as well.”
Harris said the parades will happen unless there is another wave of COVID-19 infections in the region.
“Barring that, and with the city’s approval, we will put on a parade with precautions being followed,” he said.
Harris said the parades will follow their traditional routes, but parade-goers will be allowed to park vehicles along certain portions of the route and watch the procession from their vehicles. For people watching from sidewalks, masks and physical distancing will be promoted.
He said volunteers and people walking in the parade will be wearing masks.
Nothing will be given away along the route, he said. In years past, volunteer “elves” would hand out candy canes and other festive items.
“City workers will collect food bank items and Canada Post will collect letters,” Harris said. “However we’re asking that all those be placed at curbside, and then you back off and leave it and let those people come and collect the things.
“They won’t be collecting coats, they won’t be collecting anything that has to be washed or sanitized.”
Harris said feedback in Saint John has been overwhelmingly positive. He said a Facebook post on the weekend announcing the decision was viewed by more that 40,000 people and previous participants have also been supportive.
But he stressed the desire to keep everyone safe.
“We don’t want anyone to get sick,” Harris began. “We don’t want anyone to get COVID-19. We don’t want anybody hurt either.”
He said organizers will follow safety protocols outlined by Public Health and WorkSafe NB.
“If we can put the parade on safely, we’ll do it,” he stated. “If we can’t, we’ll cancel.”
The announcement comes less than two weeks after Moncton announced its Santa Claus parade would be a drive-thru setup, where the floats are static and the parade-goers drive past them.