Santa Claus parades could alternate in Saugeen Shores

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A dwindling volunteer base and staff burnout are forcing the Saugeen Shores Chamber of Commerce to rethink its Santa Claus parade tradition.

The chamber has hosted parades annually in both Port Elgin and Southampton, but Executive Director Kimberley Inniss-Peterson told Saugeen Shores council they’re considering cutting back to just one Christmas parade each year.

She said the chamber is proposing to alternate between the two communities, starting this year with a parade in Southampton, followed by Port Elgin in 2020.  Inniss-Peterson said there’s no expectation that there will be unanimous support.

“We anticipated the emotional response that would come with such a decision, but I really would like people to focus on the opportunity that’s here with this,” said Inniss-Peterson. “One parade conveys one community.”

Mayor Luke Charbonneau said he understands its a difficult decision for the chamber, but added council has to respect whatever path is chosen.

“We don’t have the power to tell [the chamber] what they should do, they have to decide what they can do and they have to execute that and that’s their responsibility so it has to be their decision,” said Charbonneau.

Inniss-Peterson said public and council feedback will be taken back to the Chamber’s board of directors, who will ultimately decide on the Santa Claus parade’s future.