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The man in the big red suit is coming to town

Kiwanis Santa Parade 2018 [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

We’ve had snow on and off, but nothing says Christmas is coming like the arrival of jolly ol’ Saint Nick. The man in red has a busy schedule locally, with many a parade to headline.

Santa’s long list of appearances includes stops in Elmira, Wellesley and St. Clements.

He’ll be waving at the crowds along Arthur Street in Elmira on December 7, then making an evening appearance in Wellesley the following week on December 13.

There will be a few new aspects to the Woolwich stop, says Murray Haight, an organizer of the Elmira (Kiwanis) Santa Clause Parade.

“The float is a recent addition, and replaces one which had been in the parade for many years,” said Haight. “One of our members, Peter, arranged for his brother Paul Waurechen to design and construct the float. Paul is an expert float builder, having worked on many of the floats seen in the KW Oktoberfest parade.”

Now in its 28th year, the Elmira parade has gradually grown over the years, with dozens of local groups, more than 25 floats, and seven bands set to be featured in this edition. Given the sheer size of the parade, the Elmira organizing committee begins planning as early as August.

Planning includes booking Santa Claus, who is a busy man this time of year, arranging for sponsors to help pay for the cost of bands, recruiting volunteers, and setting up floats.

“Then the day of, there are the logistics of getting it organized and putting it in the right sequence,” said Haight. “Everybody part of the parade we end up at the Legion, we go there, they serve coffee cookies hot chocolate for the young participants.”

The parade begins at the corner of William and Arthur streets, continues south, then turns left on First Street, before ending at the Legion hall.

“Thank goodness William Street has been finished because that’s where the parade is being assembled. Up until a few weeks ago, it was under construction,” said Haight. “So that would have been a bit of a challenge to figure out how to get everyone organized on a muddy street. At least it’s paved and good to go.”

The Elmira parade will kick off at 10 a.m. The Wellesley version, on the other hand, is a night-time parade. It will run down Queen’s Bush Road, then onto Nafziger Road, turn onto Maple Leaf Street before ending up at the community centre. At around 7:20 p.m., there will be a live nativity scene by the Wellesley pond.

“Our big emphasis on it is that it’s a free, fun night, and it is a local event,” said Michelle Martin, one of the organizers of the parade.

Staff will be accepting any cash or food donations for the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. Martin said the amount raised varies from year to year, with the 2018 outing bringing in $1,800.

“We do rely on donations from the parade participants. For the most part, we get donations from a few local businesses like Pym’s in Wellesley,” said Martin. “They are really, really fantastic about it – they donate all of the story time treats and drinks. We’re very fortunate that a lot of the local businesses are supporting the Christmas Tyme night in that way.”

Both organizers were hoping for ideal weather on the day of – a bit light snow can add to the Christmas feel. The Wellesley parade kicks off at 6:45 p.m. – residents of the township can expect a flyer in the mail.

Upcoming parades in the Townships:

Sunday, Dec. 1 – 6 p.m.

New Hamburg Santa Claus Parade

Saturday, Dec. 7 – 10 a.m.

Elmira Kiwanis Santa Claus Parade

Saturday, Dec. 7 – 1:30 p.m.

Baden Santa Claus Parade

Friday, Dec. 13- 6:45 p.m.

Christmas Thyme in Wellesley Parade

Saturday, Dec. 14 – 1 p.m.

St. Agatha Santa Claus Parade

Saturday, Dec. 21 – 1 p.m.

St. Clements Santa Claus Parade

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