The Orillia Santa Claus Parade will get a revamped look when it returns to full capacity this year for the first time since 2019.
Usually, the parade happens in the afternoon on the first Sunday after Remembrance Day. This year, it will take place Saturday, Nov. 19 at 5 p.m.
The parade will also follow a new route as construction continues at the waterfront. It will begin on West Street South, travel to Colborne Street, past the hospital on Mississaga Street West, continuing down the main street, up Front Street, and back onto Colborne Street, heading back to where it began.
Doug Bunker, who helps organize the annual parade on behalf of the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce, says the night parade gives the community a chance to enjoy a full day of Christmas festivities.
“Maybe people will spend the day doing Christmas shopping downtown,” he said.
Participants with floats will use their vehicles or small generators to light up the parade.
While the feedback about the evening parade has been mostly positive, Bunker says some have concerns about safety when the sun goes down.
“We are addressing that with the OPP,” he said. “They are going to have more officers in that day for that reason.”
He believes the parade will be one of the best north of Toronto this year.
“People come from all around the area” to enjoy the Orillia event, he said.
While organizing the parade, the chamber has struggled with securing bands to perform live. Bunker says a lot of them have disbanded since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We are suggesting that those who are putting a float in ... integrate Christmas music,” he said. “Music really does make a parade.”
He urges people to use Thanksgiving weekend as an opportunity to chat with family and friends about making plans for attending the parade this year.
“Think about getting involved,” he said. “Community is what it’s all about.”