For 27 years, the Optimist Club of South Woolwich has brought Santa to parts of the township to spread some joy for kids the Sunday before Christmas. Despite all that is going on this year due to the pandemic, the group has still managed to convince Santa to make a stop in Maryhill, Bloomingdale and Breslau.
Starting at 3:30 p.m. on December 20, Santa will begin his trip in Maryhill, and eventually conclude his ride at the Breslau Community Centre. He’ll be led by representatives of local fire departments along the way.
What originally started as an event after another club borrowed a trailer, the cruise has now picked up steam and become a favourite for not only those who line the way to greet Santa, but also those who take part.
“The whole goal for Optimists is to be friends of youth, and we want to do whatever we can for kids so that they [can have] a normal day. This would be a way of getting to the young kids and give them something to be really happy about without leaving home,” said Graham Snyder, a member of the club and someone who’s been known to don the big red suit.
In a normal year, Santa would bring with him pounds of candy canes to give out to the kids, in addition to collecting donations for the food bank. To keep everyone safe, the candy canes will not be given out as they normally are. Instead, the big man will simply be driving by and waving to families as they stand on their properties, and donations will be collected by a second wagon that will follow.
Snyder says last year the group collected about 2,300 pounds of food and they are hoping to continue with that trend. Residents will be asked to leave bags of food at the end of their driveways for collection or at the Breslau fire hall. All items collected will be donated to the food bank following the event.
At one point, the club debated the safety of continuing the event this year. However, Snyder says there were many who pushed for it to happen. He was one of them, noting he is overjoyed to take part in the event.
“My year wouldn’t be complete without doing it – my heart melts when I do this every year because when we go down the street … when I’m on the sleigh with all the noise around, I can hear kids half a block ahead calling my name. And nothing feels better than that,” he added. “There’s just so many kids that this is this is a perfect fit for the community. The fire truck actually leads us, so the fire truck sounds as the lights go and sounds the sirens, and everybody knows that we’re coming. That gets everybody out [for a visit].”
For safety reasons during the pandemic, Snyder says the club is encouraging everyone to keep their distance and stick to their driveways.
Santa will make his trip on Sunday; listen for the fire trucks to hear when he will be coming to your area.