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Santa Claus is coming back to town with return of holiday parades

The spirit of Christmas is returning to Victoria with ­organizations collaborating to bring back four parades over two weekends this holiday season.
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Coast Guard’s Jeff Cox test drives their float along Government Street. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

The spirit of Christmas is returning to Victoria with ­organizations collaborating to bring back four parades over two weekends this holiday season.

Organizers of Santa’s Light Parade (now with Peninsula Co-op as the title sponsor), Island Equipment Owners Association Truck Light Convoy, Sidney Sparkles Christmas Parade and Esquimalt’s Celebration of Lights have pooled their knowledge and resources to bring back traditional parades sidelined last year by the pandemic.

The lights were conspicuously dark the last holiday season as organizations were unable to stage large crowd events due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The organizers are the Greater Victoria Festival Society, Island Equipment Owners Association, Esquimalt Celebration of Lights Committee, Peninsula Celebrations Society and Sidney Business Improvement Area Society. They’ve used the hiatus to collaborate on this year’s seasonal events.

“We have talked about working together for years. Now we are making it happen,” said Kelly Kurta, executive director of the Greater Victoria Festival Society. “It isn’t about being individuals anymore. It is about working together, cross-promoting, sharing resources, and showcasing our communities as a whole. Together, we are going to light up the city.”

One example of the collaboration is the adoption of a common communicable-disease prevention plan for all four events.

The response from the ­community has been positive and immediate.

“We received 10 responses the first day we started accepting applications,” said Kurta.

Details are still being worked out. The route for Santa’s Light Parade has not been finalized, due in part to portions of Government Street being turned into a more pedestrian-friendly format. Narrower portions of the road can be a problem with some wider floats.

Rob Galey already has a 75-foot-long float ready and said there are “more to come.”

“I so miss the Santa’s Light Parade. I miss seeing little guys’ faces — grinning from ear to ear, as the float goes by,” said Galey, who is well-known for his float designs and construction experience.

The length of the parade route is likely to be extended by a few blocks, ending up closer to Bay Street, giving spectators the chance to socially distance and avoid congestion at the end of the events.

“The safety of our communities is our number one priority,” said Kurta.

The group’s ­planning included input and guidance from the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

The four festive season parades are:

• The 39th Peninsula Co-op Santa’s Light Parade, starting from Belleville and Government streets, Nov. 27.

• The Sidney Sparkles Parade, along Beacon Avenue, Nov. 28.

• The IEOA Truck Light Convoy and Food Drive, starting from the Breakwater District at Ogden Point, Dec. 4.

• The Esquimalt Light Parade, running from Esquimalt and Canteen roads to Esquimalt Plaza, Dec. 5.

As the events are outdoors, masks will be recommended, but not mandatory.

parrais@timescolonist.com