Sundridge Coun. Barbara Belrose wants her community to be able to host a significant Santa Claus Parade in a post-COVID-19 environment.
Last year the pandemic wiped out numerous winter parades because organizers said it would be too difficult to maintain social distancing with people lining the streets of their communities.
Belrose says the Santa Claus Parade Committee, which is a sub-committee of the Recreation Committee, has sent letters to the townships of Strong and Joly.
In addition, Belrose says Machar and South River have also been sent letters asking both to be participants in the parade.
The letters are asking for donations as the parade committee tries to raise $6,000 for the event.
Belrose hopes her own town council can donate $1,000.
“We have extensive plans and want something to work with,” Belrose told her colleagues as she made the pitch for money.
“I think this year the Santa Claus Parade may be the main thing we have to present to our communities. We need funds in that account to do what we want to do.”
Belrose didn't let any details out but did say the committee will need to buy a lot of lumber for this year's parade.
But the lumber purchase is a one-time event.
“The first year of the parade will be where the money is to go for things,” she said.
“After that it will be easier because everything will be stored carefully and kept for (future) years.”
Belrose says the rationale for starting with the municipalities first is to gauge how much interest there is in donating to the parade.
“Then after that, we'll know what we have to do,” Belrose said, adding the committee intends to also approach the local chamber of commerce for help as well as private businesses.
Sundridge council held off committing the $1,000 donation.
Mayor Lyle Hall wants the parade committee chairperson to bring back a budget to council so elected officials can further discuss the donation request.
“It gives us a better idea of how much we want to spend,” Hall said.
Meanwhile, Councillor Steve Hicks at first expressed reservations about donating any money for an event that's at the mercy of COVID-19.
Hicks said considering how COVID continues to affect many communities, he believes little will change for the better as the year moves forward.
“You can expect much the same for the second half of the year,” Hicks said.
However, Hicks then acknowledged that even if Sundridge makes a donation and there's no parade again this year, the money isn't lost.
“It's not like we're throwing money away,” he said.
“A donation that isn't used this year can get used next year.”
In response, Belrose said the committee will continue to monitor how COVID plays out, but she also said planning for the parade can't be a last-minute thing.
“You can't plan an extensive Santa Claus Parade in October and hope it's going to go (well),” she said.
“We have to get started soon, as soon as the weather clears.”
The parade committee chairperson may appear at Sundridge council as early as its next meeting March 10.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget