Glace Bay residents saddened by decision to cancel Christmas parade
GLACE BAY, N.S. -- The question of whether Santa Claus is coming to town has been on the minds of a lot of people in Cape Breton the last few days.
People in at least one community have now received their final answer.
Strict rules and the Cape Bretion Regional Council's decision to ban nighttime parades are cited as the reasons behind the cancellation of the Christmas parade in Glace Bay.
Many people are angry and saddened over a holiday tradition that for now is no more.
"I think it's terrible," said one resident. "We've had a parade for years, why can't we have one?"
Valerie Guthro doesn't agree with the decision.
"There has been (one) for years and they should continue with it, she said.
Another resident thinks it's sad.
"They should have it for the kids," she said.
For 25 years, Glace Bay Fire Chief John Chant has been in charge of putting the community's Christmas parade together.
But with new safety rules and a ban on nighttime parades, he says it's made it harder to find volunteers, and was left with no choice but to cancel this year's event.
"Nobody was even invited to the table from the volunteer fire departments to discuss these new rules," Chant said. "They were just dropped on our desk. It frustrates me to know that we're always the afterthought when it comes to this stuff."
Chant says, in the past, the parade was held in the day, but there was very little participation.
Since moving to the evening, the parade has grown in size and he says he was blindsided to have it all taken away without any consultation.
Darren Bruckschwaiger was one of six councillors who voted to ban nighttime parades in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
"I've got a lot of people who called me thanking me for looking at the safety as well, not just the people who were upset at losing the night time parades," Bruckschwaiger said. "You have only one vote and you have to look at all the information and make a stand. The democratic process is completed and now we're supposed to move on."
Chant says it's also harder to both staff the station and the parade during the day. In North Sydney, they too had cancelled their parade due to the new rules, but a decision has been made to go ahead with a daytime parade after overwhelming feedback and support from the community.
Back in Glace Bay, Chant says nobody has ever been injured during their parade in the more than two decades he's been involved.
"If everything turns to what ifs, I don't know where we're going to go with any events in the future," Chant said.
Chant says Santa will still be available at a standalone event, but is saddened that a community tradition has come to an abrupt end.