The Peninsula Co-op Santa Claus Parade is just days away, and organizers are encouraging eventgoers to get there early because it’s going to be busy in downtown Victoria.
As many as 70,000 people are expected to come out this Saturday, Nov. 25, to watch the parade, which includes about 2,000 participants and 60 entries, according to Kelly Kurta, executive director of the Greater Victoria Festival Society.
It all kicks off at 5:20 p.m. at Government and Belleville streets before floats move north along Government, east on Humbolt Street and north on Douglas Street, wrapping up outside the Victoria Public Market at 1701 Douglas St.
The final float will hit the road just before 6 p.m., says Kurta.
Staff at the society are “super excited” to be back for another year, the parade’s 41st, especially because it’s “the largest nighttime parade in Canada,” she said.
“And we’re pretty proud of it.”
‘It’s an amazing thing’
“This is the kick-off to Christmas on the West Coast,” exclaimed Kurta.
The lineup includes the Department of National Defence, which will have what’s believed to be the largest float in the parade. Chris Shipway, a supervisor at the department, says the float is about 80 feet long.
“There are at least $25,000 worth of lights on it, so I’d say there are 60,000 to 80,000 lights. We have a computer control board inside the boat that controls the lights and runs a sequence like you’d see in a theatre,” he said.
The float is modelled after the HMCS Vancouver, a Halifax-class frigate, and there will also be an inflatable helicopter on the back deck. About 12 people helped put this float together.
“It’s an amazing thing,” added Shipway.
“We are willing to do it outside of working hours. We take our time outside of working hours to do this, and it’s all about the support of the three parades we participate in.”
Airing live on CHEK
And, of course, “Santa and Mrs. Claus will be joining us,” said Kurta.
“I hear that it’s going to be a beautiful night. I’m actually, for the first time, telling people it’s not going to rain,” she said. “I’m hoping that my words are going to be listened to.”
But Kurta’s warning people to arrive early. Road closures start around 3 p.m.
“There is going to be a lot of congestion. If you’re coming in to watch, I would come down early,” she warned. “I know that parking is free in many of the downtown parking lots. The DVBA (Downtown Business Association) has paid for the parking [in downtown parkades] for that evening.”
During the parade, the Mustard Seed will once again be collecting food and cash for its Street Church and Food Bank, and volunteers from the charity will be giving out hot chocolate at Douglas and Humbolt streets starting at 4:30 p.m. More donation information is here.
Meanwhile, the Victoria Disability Resource Center will have live audio descriptions this year at Government and Belleville streets, and people are encouraged to reach out to the centre via its website for more information.
“It makes it so inclusive for people who maybe wouldn’t come to the parade,” added Kurta.
After the parade
But the fun isn’t over when the parade concludes. The Hudson Holiday Market is happening until around 8:30 p.m. at the Victoria Public Market, according to Kurta.
“Santa and Mrs. Claus will be inside taking pictures by donation, which will, in turn, go back to the Mustard Seed,” she added.
“We’ve got vendors and live music playing, so come on over to the Public Market, shop a little, have some treats and get your picture taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus.”