Pandemic impacting Remembrance Day, Sarnia Santa Claus parade

Sarnia Remembrance Day Parade on Wellington St. (BlackburnNews.com file photo by Briana Carnegie)

Alternate plans are in the works for fall and winter events in Sarnia including Remembrance Day and the Santa Claus parade.

In a community events update to city council, staff are reporting that the Sarnia Legion has cancelled the traditional public march of veterans to the Cenotaph November 11 and is planning a reduced service at Veteran’s Park or elsewhere. Details were still being worked out including the possibility of community participation.

“When it comes to parades, there are some real challenges with encouraging community gatherings and lots of people on the sidewalks in close proximity,” said Sarnia General Manager of Community Services Stacey Forfar.

A “reverse” Santa Claus Parade is being considered at Lambton College.

To eliminate gatherings, stationary floats would be set up in the parking lot and members of the public would be invited to drive their own vehicles through the campus to view them. The date is still being determined.

The Celebration of Lights has cancelled its formal opening ceremony. It’s expected most of the displays will still be set up at Centennial Park, but they’re still determining if visits with Santa will be allowed.

Christmas on the Farm displays will be set up at Canatara Park, with at-home activities replacing in-person elements.

The jury’s still out on Halloween, which falls on a Saturday this year. The city has been discussing the October 31 tradition with Lambton Public Health, but no official announcements have been made.

“It’s one of those ones, where it’s not really a city initiated event,” said Forfar. “It’s a national pastime. We’ll be looking for direction from Lambton Public Health and some other organizations to see what could be supported community-wide.”

According to Ontario’s Stage 3 reopening framework, mid-sized festivals and events are permitted as long as the public gatherings are limited to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.

The only exemption is for drive-in events, where no formal limit has been set.