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(Posted 9:30 p.m., Nov. 29)
Huge crowds come out for Santa’s Parade of Lights

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Santa Claus waves at the crowds along St. Joseph Blvd. during the Parade of lights on Saturday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Thousands of people lined St. Joseph Boulevard on Saturday night for the annual Parade of Lights Christmas parade featuring the jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus.

The crowds were among the biggest in recent memory with people lined up five and six deep along the entire route. The parade featured 76 entries, including four fire trucks, two horses, four ponies, two marching bands, a dozen or so mascots, two Grinches and a steady stream of mulit-coloured lights.

The floats were acccompanied by members of the Ottawa Firefighters Association who collected monetary donations and toys along the parade route which will be turned over to the Salvation Army and eventually into the hands of children in need.

As in the past, this year’s parade included floats from a number of local businesses, churches, high schools, service clubs and youth groups.

Each entry was festooned with strings of multi-coloured lights that were reflected in the faces of the crowd that lined the entire route from Youville Drive to Place d’Orléans, and especially in the faces of the children who grew more excited with each passing float.

Among the parade participants was École secondaire Louis-Riel, École élémentaire l’Odysée, the Bilberry Baptist Church, the 632 Air Cadets, École élémentaire Etoile de l’Est, the Gloucester Tumblers and École de Danse Louise.

One float even featured the Grinch behind bars which drew both jeers and cheers.

But the loudest cheers were reserved for the 77th and last entry, Santa himself. Resplendent in his red suit trimmed in white fur, St. Nick waved at the adoring children who all waved back as he slowly made his way down St. Joseph Blvd.

For many of the people who lined the route, Santa’s Parade of Lights is an annual tradition. For others, like John and Louise Davidson who brought their three-year-old daughter Madison to the parade for the first time, it’s a tradition in the making.

“This is our first time,” said Louise. “I’ve been to the Ottawa parade with my two nieces before, but this is much better. There’s a much stronger sense of community. We’re definitely coming back next year."

While Santa was the star of the parade, the focus of the annual event is to raise money and collect toys for the Salvation Army.

Thousands of toys and tens of thousands of dollars have been collected over the years, helping to make Christmas a little more joyous for financially challenged families across the region.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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