Photos and Story By Chris Parker
Of all the visitors that arrive to serve McBride’s needs, there is no question of who is the most anticipated, appreciated, and generates the most excitement. While the arrival of the out of town grocery trucks and fish vendors are appreciated and visitors, relatives and former residents arrive bringing seasonal joy – it is Santa Claus that generates the most smiles, laughter and cheers. It was no different on Nov. 19, as right on time the parade left the village office and began its trip down Main Street to its destination on 2nd Avenue at the Elks Hall. Even on a cold evening the attendance was terrific – the support for this Chamber of Commerce organized and Village supported event was warm and clearly welcomed.
The parade was led by Fire Chief Dave Hurby and his staff with Santa on top of the first vehicle. Both proudly told this writer they have participated the entire eleven years that the event has been held in McBride. Riding on the new Village truck were Councillors Rejman, Thompson and Klimpton, the first two indicating they have attended or participated in the event each year, while Councillor Klimpton was now participating for her third time.
Also taking part in the parade was Lester Blouin and his beautiful team of Percheron Horses, Jake and Hank and his hay covered wagon, picking up more and more children as they went along. And of course, right at the very front with lights and sirens announcing the arrival of Santa was Constable Todd Learning driving his RCMP vehicle.
Amongst the children and parents I chatted with along the parade route and at the Elks Hall were Christine Learning (Todd’s wife) and daughters Olivia and Anna who as new residents of McBride were enjoying their first parade. Amongst the others were Tea Perlette who at 8 years old was enjoying her eighth event, Lucas and Pacey Wall who have participated in six events and two events respectively and Riley, Jordan, Emily and Jessica Eyben who were attending for the seventh time.
Once at the Elks Hall, the entire Grizzlies Hockey Team (fresh from their trophy-winning tournament win in Mackenzie) were there in uniform to assist the organizers serving hot chocolate and providing a splash of colour. Outside Jake and Hank waited patiently with their owner/driver for another load of youngsters (of all ages) who took a short spin around the downtown area on the hay wagon.
Inside the Elks Hall, Santa greeted all the girls and boys and took their Christmas gift orders which interestingly resembled those from big cities and small villages the length and breadth of Canada – telephones, games and other electronic regalia, bracelet kits, on went the list. Thankfully the dutiful Elves were there to help Santa remember all the requests. They also gave the children gift bags provided by the Chamber of Commerce.
Then it was off to Main Street (and 1st and 2nd Avenue) where vendors stayed open late to allow for Christmas shopping. The parade also signalled the beginning of the Shop Local program put on by the Chamber. Cards can be stamped for each $10 spent and once filled, the cards can be dropped off in bins at the Scotia Bank and the train station. From these entries 3 prize winners will be selected to receive Chamber Bucks to spend at any of the participating businesses. Last year some $150,000 was circulated in town as we supported one another in this way. The cards can be filled and deposited until January 15th and the winners will be selected and announced at the Chamber Annual General Meeting to be held a few days later.
Meanwhile back at the Elks Hall Santa’s knee was tired from holding hundreds of youngsters, and at least one high school principal, but he smiled on and valiantly declared that he would see all the boys and girls on Christmas Eve.