By Perry Lefko
After a one-year absence, the Santa Claus Parade is coming back to Streetsville.
Through the initiative of Ward 11 Councillor George Carlson, the parade will return to Streetsville on Nov. 25 as part of a new three-day festival that will allow the Streetsville Business Improvement Association (BIA) to continue with a market square festival. Last year, there was a two-day festival with no parade, which created quite a bit of discussion comparing the year before when there was a two-day event that included a parade.
Carlson is hoping, with a budget of $20,000-$25,000, there can be a parade that will satisfy everyone.
“I kicked around the idea with a couple dozen people who all thought it was a great little event and we could have it bigger than it was,” he said. “Last year it was pretty small. It was just a community-based parade. Our goal is to now make it at least 50 per cent bigger than it was.
“It should be a good mid-sized parade, so it doesn’t bankrupt anybody. We’re not planning on turning it into what might be a central Mississauga parade. It’s not going to be that. A Santa Claus parade can easily morph into a $250,000 operation. We’re trying to keep this more into a community level.
“In this case, I kind of thought the Santa Claus parade was one of those events we didn’t want to see end. Though Santa Claus Village was pretty popular and lots of people came out, at the end of it all we heard was, ‘we want Santa and we want the parade.’
“You can’t mess with Santa. Not that I needed much convincing because I was kind of wondering how this was all going to work. I’m game to give something a try once, but it soon became clear Mr. Santa Claus and his lovely wife better be on a sleigh going through Streetsville. Some formulas you don’t want to mess with. That’s one of them. It didn’t take many days after missing the Santa Claus parade to get a group together and do something.
“The BIA will do their village thing on Friday night and Saturday at the town square and it will be cleared out on Sunday for the parade. We’re working hand in hand with the BIA, who are great partners. The people who loved Santa will be relieved to know we’re not the grinches who stole Christmas. Messing with Santa is not a good idea.”
What began in 1974 as the Mississauga parade, in the area between Hurontario and Burnhamthorpe and around Square One, shifted to Streetsville in 2002 when the Streetsville BIA stepped in as the organizer and host. The parade swelled from a handful or so of floats that took about 20 minutes from start to finish to an hour-long event with about 20 floats and bands that didn’t drive much revenue to offset the cost.
“It was the old, the soup was too cold and too hot,” Carlson said. “Hopefully now we’re going to hit the note that is just right. We had about 19 floats in 2016, we’re aiming for 30 this year, which still allows us to marshal the parade right downtown on Church Street, and we don’t have to close Brittannia Road with the thousands of dollars in police costs.
“All the workings with the city for road closures are underway. As far as I’m concerned it’s a go. We’re working on lining up the acts and getting the Legion, that participated in it, allowing us to use their property. As a subcommittee of the BIA, it made the BIA responsible for all the aspects of it. Now they are a partner in this whole weekend.”
Photo: Councillor George Carlson shows his Chirstmas spirit.