Hay River has kicked off the Christmas season with its annual Santa Claus Parade.
In many ways, the procession through the community just after supper on Nov. 27 resembled those of previous years, but there were also noticeable changes because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are having everyone remain in their vehicles or on the floats,” said parade organizer Nicole Mitchell, the recreation programmer with the Town of Hay River. “There is no handing out of candy or gifts like normal.”
Mitchell noted the changes also applied to spectators.
“If people are watching, either watch from inside the home, because we are passing a lot of residential areas, from their vehicle or outside as long as they are wearing masks and keeping themselves physically distant,” she said, just before the parade began.
There were many people who watched the parade, including from vehicles parked downtown.
The parade was following similar guidelines and the same route as the Canada Day Parade on July 1.
The 11 floats and vehicles in this year’s parade were noticeably fewer than in previous years. Last year, there were 18 vehicles and floats.
Mitchell said there was no doubt about holding the Santa Claus Parade this year.
“No, not really, considering we were successful with our Canada Day Parade and I just thought, ‘It worked really well for Canada Day. Let’s do the same thing for Santa Claus,'” she said. “The only thing I thought of was what if it got really cold, and then I had a plan to shorten the route. But the weather has turned out great.”
When the parade began at about 6:30 p.m., the temperature was minus 11 degrees, and there were only occasional snow flurries under a nearly full moon.
Mitchell said the Santa Claus Parade is important to Hay River because it’s a yearly tradition.
“It’s something that really says, ‘You know what? The holidays are here,'” she said. “It’s a great time.”
Just before the parade began at Bob McMeekin Memorial Chamber Park, Mayor Kandis Jameson turned on the lights of the community Christmas tree at the park.