Santa Clause arriving in Vancouver in 2016, during the city's annual parade. If a new major sponsor is not found, the parade will not happen this year.
Photo Credit: CBC / Tina Lovegreen

Santa Claus parade not in Vancouver this year, perhaps


Santa Clause parades are an annual event in cities across Canada.

Toronto claims it has the original, with the first one held 113 years ago, in 1905.

The parades herald the beginning of the Christmas season and are usually tied into a large retailer that hopes to benefit from the shopping that’s often a part of it all.

This year Vancouver, the largest city in west-coast British Columbia, may not have a parade after Rogers, the largest sponsor, has cancelled its participation.

“We’re $150,000 short and I’m pretty sure there’s someone out there who says I’m going save Santa Claus”

Vancouver’s parade only got going 14 years ago, and it appeared to be a growing success.

The society in charge of Vancouver’s parade estimates 300,000 people come downtown to watch and participate each year. © CBC/Tina Lovgreen

But when Rogers confirmed it would not be contributing the $150,000 (Cdn) of the annual $400,000 budget, the future of the parade was in peril.

“We’re grateful for Rogers support over the years. They’ve been a tremendous partner for the parade and they’ve just changed their focus as corporations do over time,” said Jessica Walker, president of the Santa Claus Parade Society.

Walker says it’s been a struggle to to find a replacement sponsor. “We’ve just had a hard time filling [Roger’s] shoes,” she said.

Much of the budget goes to pay for permitting and city fees, policing and traffic control and closures, and building floats.

“We have over 300,000 people come down, so we have a lot of safety and traffic control protocols in place,” Walker said.

The City of Vancouver offered to contribute about one-third of the parade costs in kind, according to Walker.

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank has counted on donations at the parade to get through the year.

CEO Aart Schuurman Hess said the parade helped bring in $157,000 (Cdn) and 77,000 pounds of food over the years.

“We’re $150,000 short and I’m pretty sure there’s someone out there who says I’m going save Santa Claus,” Schuurman Hess said.

Vancouver’s parade society decided that if a new sponsor is not found within two weeks, it will cancel the event.

With files from CBC

Posted in Arts and Entertainment, Economy, Society

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