A fire juggler, live performances, hot chocolate and tons of holiday cheer were all around downtown Barrie, Ont., this weekend as residents celebrated the official arrival of the holiday season.
After two years of pandemic restrictions, the Santa Claus Parade returned to the downtown core in the evening, with tons of events happening during the day at the Noella Festival.
This year’s theme was holiday traditions which the Barrie Chamber of Commerce said was designed to celebrate multiple cultures looking to the past, present and future.
Paul Markle, executive director of the Barrie Chamber of Commerce, estimates there were around 70,000 people out on the streets to watch the parade but said it’s hard to know the exact amount.
“Nothing beats getting back to a regular parade route. Bradford Street all the way down to the end of Dunlop was packed. I’ve never seen as many people in for a parade in my lifetime as far as going to Santa Claus parades in Barrie,” Markle said.
“You could feel the joy in the air, and the kids were just beside themselves.”
There were 47 floats which Markle said is a bit fewer than in years past, but that did not take away from the “huge effort” put forward by local businesses.
“This is for Barrie by Barrie, and it’s great to be back to see this again. So we’re looking forward to putting it on again next year,” he said.
On Saturday, there were also live performances in Meridian Square by the Strumbellas, as well as games and hot chocolate as part of the Downtown Barrie BIA’s Noella Festival.
Following the parade, residents witnessed the tree-lighting ceremony followed by fireworks.