Santa Claus Parade (BlackburnNews.com photo by Dave Dentinger)

Construction alters route of Santa Claus parade

When Santa Claus comes to London on Saturday, he will be taking a bit of a different route through the downtown.

Construction of Dundas Place, the city’s first flexible street, has led to a bit of an altered route for the London Santa Claus Parade. It will now detour off of Dundas St. at Wellington St. and head over to Queens Ave. for the remainder of the parade, which wraps up at Ridout St.

“Over the last 10 or 15 years we have had to change the route. One time it was for the massive sinkhole at Dundas and Wellington, another time for construction. So we have done it before,” said Shaun Merton, executive director of the London Santa Claus Parade. “It is just one of those things as the city is changing and getting bigger everybody has to work together to make events like this work.”

The theme of the 62nd annual Santa Claus Parade is “A Christmas to Remember.” It will feature 37 floats, including a ladies’ precision horse team and an 80-piece marching band. The parade should last a total of an hour and 30 minutes from any given point along the route, noted Merton.

People coming to the parade are asked to consider bringing non-perishable food items for the London Food Bank and new teddy bears for the Salvation Army toy drive. “Santa Stop Here” flags will be available for purchase and the annual Toonie Toss will also take place. Money raised through those two initiatives is used to help cover some of the costs of the free event.

Parade organizers have received a bit of flack for holding the parade before Remembrance Day, but Merton reassures they mean no disrespect toward the county’s veterans.

“The parade has always been held on the second Saturday in November. It started in 1956 and this year it is the same date, November 10, that the very first parade started on,” said Merton. “Because of all of the logistics of getting bands and entertainment, which are booked at least a year in advance, it is just too hard to move it.”

Shifting the parade to the third week of November last year due to a conflict with Remembrance Day cost the parade a few of its traditional musical acts, Merton added.

This year’s parade gets underway at 6 p.m. at Dundas St. and Egerton St. and will head west toward the downtown.

“I usually always pull Santa’s float,” said Merton. “When you see the twinkle in the kids’ eyes and everybody is screaming to see Santa with all of their happy faces, that is why we bring this to the City of London – for good free family entertainment.”

More information about the parade can be found at www.londonsantaparade.ca.