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Santa Light Parade back downtown, starts 5:30 p.m. today; Esquimalt and Sooke parades on Dec. 5

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Santa waves to the crowd during the Santa Light Parade in 2014. This year’s event takes place on Saturday. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

The Santa Light Parade makes its annual appearance in downtown Victoria Saturday with 60 entries set to line up for a 5:30 p.m. start.

This will be the 39th year for the event, which changed from a daytime gathering to a lighted, nighttime affair in 1998. It will follow the usual route along Government Street, from Belleville Street to Pembroke Street.

Peninsula Co-op is the new title sponsor.

Food and cash donations for the Mustard Seed will be accepted in the start area, while toys and cash will be collected for the Helmet Head Toy Run benefiting Victoria General Hospital and Jeneece Place. The toy run is named for the ­Helmet Head Canada motorcycle group, known for decorating their ­helmets with Sesame Street characters. Up to 100 members will attend.

Food trucks will be in place on Belleville at 3:30 p.m.

There will be no Christmas Square for parade-goers to gather at this year due to lack of funding.

Kelly Kurta, executive ­director of the Greater Victoria Festival Society, which organizes the parade, said it is exciting to be back after last year’s COVID‑related cancellation. “We just want to bring back some smiles and some ­happiness,” she said.

“It’s really important, I think we really need this.”

Esquimalt and Sooke both have parades scheduled for Dec. 5.

The 15th annual Esquimalt Celebration of Lights Parade starts at 5 p.m. at Canteen Road and heads to the Archie Browning Sports Centre via Esquimalt Road, while the Sooke Santa Parade also begins at 5 p.m. and runs from Sooke Elementary School to Townsend Road.

The Esquimalt parade will be followed by festivities at the sports centre, where food will be collected for Rainbow Kitchen.

In Sidney, the annual Sidney Sparkles Christmas Parade has been cancelled by the Peninsula Celebrations Society. The society said in a statement that it made the decision “due to an abundance of caution surrounding COVID-19.”

jbell@timescolonist.com