MERRY AND BRIGHT: The float created by the Stuart family and the Ashcroft Legion Branch #113 was judged the top entry in this year’s Keith Stuart Santa Parade on December 2.

Keith Stuart Santa Parade a huge success

This year's Christmas parade in Ashcroft was renamed in honour of the man who organized it for so many years.

Ashcroft Legion president George Cooke presents the first place float award to Judy Stuart and Joey Whynacht. All photos by Barbara Roden.

The annual Santa Parade in Ashcroft took place on December 2, and this year was renamed the 2016 Keith Stuart Santa Parade. Stuart, who with his wife Judy was a long-time organizer of the Santa parade, died earlier this year.

Heather Philpott, who took on the organization of this year’s Santa parade after many years running the Rodeo parade, says there were 22 separate floats, vehicles, and groups in this year’s event. Several hundred people lined Railway Avenue to watch the parade, and many parents and children took advantage of the opportunity to have pictures taken with Mr. and Mrs. Claus on the Irly Building Centre float after the parade ended.

George Cooke, president of the Ashcroft Legion branch #113, presented awards to the three floats judged to be the best. First place went to the float that was done by the Legion and the Stuart family; second prize was awarded to the Zumba float; and third place went to Ashcroft Building Centre.

The Zumba group celebrate their second place award.

New this year was a “Light-Up Wreath” contest, with downtown Ashcroft businesses encouraged to build their own wreaths, decorate them with colourful lights and ornaments, and display them to brighten up the downtown. Eighteen businesses took part, and the prize for the best wreath went to NGN Sales and Service, whose wreath was built by Santo Talarico, Nathan Talarico, and Danika Paulos.

Heather Philpott (right) presents the “best wreath” award to Nathan Talarico and Danika Paulos of NGN Sales and Service.

“People just loved it,” says Philpott of the parade. “They said it was more dazzling, with so many more lights and awesome, awesome floats.”

One regret Philpott has is that it was not made clear enough to parade participants and onlookers that the plan was for the floats to circle back along Brink Street so people could see it again, and then gather at the building centre for people to get a closer look at the hard work that went into the floats. “I’d definitely make a big deal out of letting people know that next time.”

George Cooke presents Heather Rourke and Joe Rainville of Ashcroft Building Centre with their third place award.

Philpott thinks that the Santa parade could really be built up into something almost as big as the Rodeo parade (as long as the weather cooperates). When asked if she will be back to organize next year’s parade, Philpott says that several committee members have already indicated they would like to come back next year. “And chances are good I’d do it again. It’s a strong possibility.”

Colby Arnett (left) and Trent Bevan, who both took part in the parade, chill out with some hot chocolate afterward.


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