Some communities cancelling Christmas parades because of COVID-19 concerns
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Christmas parades are a longstanding tradition in many Maritime communities, but in some places this year Santa won't be coming to town at the end of a parade because of concerns about COVID-19.
For 15 years, Blaine Harris and Owen Boyle have been helping bring Santa Claus to Saint John streets, but this year, because of COVID-19 restrictions, that long-time tradition is coming to a grinding halt.
"Christmas to me is a huge thing," said Harris, a parade committee co-chair. "I absolutely love Christmas and I love everything about it. And when you have to take away a Santa Claus parade, it's not something that you do very lightly."
It was announced Monday that Santa Claus parades -- both the 68th Saint John and the 16th Lancaster, which is on the city's west side -- would be cancelled.
Organizers say they looked at every avenue, including a drive-thru parade like the one Moncton is planning, where floats are parked and people drive by in their cars, but that presented its own set of problems.
"So you have to find a location that can handle one, two kilometres worth of length, and then two, that is safe for both the people that are within the floats and the people that are driving within the floats," Harris said.
In the end, Harris says, sadly, they were not able to find a way to do the parades safely in Saint John this year, and Saint John is not alone.
Halifax has also cancelled its Santa Claus parade, but it will be running highlights from previous years on local television on Nov. 21 and will still be collecting donations for Feed Nova Scotia.
Some say it's yet another blow during an already difficult year.
"What a nice thing to see a little ray of sunshine during the pandemic, what a beautiful thing all the kids in Lancaster, west saint john to see Santa Claus during the pandemic," said Boyle, the other parade committee co-chair."And now that's taken away from them."