The Santa Claus parade has been a tradition in Ashcroft for many years, and Community Futures Sun Country (CFSC) has stepped in to ensure that it continues in 2018 after the longtime organizer had to bow out.
“We got a notice from the organizer indicating that he didn’t have the time,” says CFSC general manager Deb Arnott. “So I thought ‘We can take this on.’ The business community doesn’t need another hit. We need people to come to town and spend their money. It fits in our mandate, so we took it on.”
Arnott adds that she saw it as necessary to keep the parade going. “I was afraid that if it didn’t happen this year, it would die. It’s hard to get these things going again. You need to keep the momentum going, because it’s hard to walk in and start things up again.”
She says that as a first-time organizer of the parade they were starting fresh, and that the first step was to talk to all the downtown businesses. There were two conditions: that every business stay open until at least 8 p.m. on the day of the parade (Friday, Dec. 7), and that they offer specials.
“We had complete buy-in,” says Arnott. “Everyone was on board.” Noting everything that the region has endured over the past two years, Arnott adds, “We need to bring the spirit back, and I know in my heart that people want to participate, need that sense of community.
“We want this to be a celebration of our resilience. We haven’t done enough as a community.”
Acknowledging the need to bring young people in and get them involved—“Young people will be the ones who carry this on”—Arnott spoke to her granddaughter, asking what she and her friends would like to see and what would make them happy. “Candyland” was the reply, and that became the theme of this year’s parade.
She adds that even though it was important to keep the event downtown, it was also important that the evening was inclusive of everyone, and had as many activities as possible to keep people in the downtown core. “There will be buskers and musicians, and a market to bring home-based businesses into town. We’re open to any suggestions.”
Arnott says that people began contacting her about the event as soon as news began to spread. “It’s only been one week, but things are moving so fast. Tim Hortons is already on board. Damian Couture [manager of the Tim Hortons at the Esso Travel Centre] called and said he’d heard about it, and that they wanted to participate.”
The goal, says Arnott, is to keep the event going and eventually have different people take on the organization of different parts of the evening. “It’s not my show. I want everyone to participate.
“People look forward to this every year. We need to keep the tradition going.”
Any buskers, musicians, concessions, or home-based businesses that would like to take part can call Community Futures Sun Country at (250) 453-9165 for more information.