Bad timing cancels Nanaimo’s Santa parade

Santa is coming to Nanaimo, but no parade will be escorting him to his workshop.

Santa Claus is coming to town, but it will be children instead of a parade escorting him to his workshop.

The Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association cancelled the Nanaimo Lions parade, which has thrilled children on the day of Santa’s arrival for decades, at the last minute due to lack of parade entries.

“The gentleman who normally does the parade decided not to do it this year for health reasons and the Lions were also hosting a huge conference here, so they were really busy and didn’t get the parade entry forms out until the end of October and usually they get them out by the end of August,” said Robyn Tonack, DNBIA marketing and event coordinator.

Tonack said the DNBIA thought it might still be able to pull off the parade, but it was too late to get enough floats together.

But Tonack said the association isn’t going to let the lack of a parade put a chill on Christmas spirits and promises the parade will be back bigger and better next year.

“Next year we’ll help them with the administration of the parade and they’ll continue with the marshalling of it,” Tonack said.

Santa is giving his reindeer a rest by flying into Nanaimo with Harbour Air Saturday (Nov. 24) at 9:30 a.m. to make sure he arrives in time for Vancouver Island University’s Festival of Trees.

Children will get the chance to escort Santa and his elves to his workshop in the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, where Santa will hang out and greet children until he goes upstairs to meet families at the Festival of Trees from 2-3:30 p.m.

There will be plenty going on at Diana Krall Plaza Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 25) too. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day families can watch ice sculptor Aaron Grant of Cool As Ice and other professional ice sculptors carve a sleigh, an ice throne and other creations families can view and have their photos taken with. Come back at night to see Christmas lights sparkle in the ice.

“They should have their first sleigh ready for the public to interact with by noon (Saturday),” Tonack said. “They’ll be under the big 30-by-30 tent and we’ve got free hot chocolate.”

The Light Up a Life fundraising campaign for Haven House and Nanaimo SPCA also kicks off downtown Saturday and runs until Dec. 22.

Starting Dec. 1, free horse and buggy rides will run downtown Saturdays (Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22) noon – 4 p.m.

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