Grand Forks is having a parade!

Friday night, Dec. 4, the Santa Claus Parade hits town starting at 7 p.m.

Grand Forks is having a parade!

Plenty of creatures will be stirring on Friday night, Dec. 4, as the Santa Claus parade hits town starting at 7 p.m.

The fourth annual parade starts at the usual location at the Selkirk College parking lot and goes down 72nd Avenue, down Second Street one block to Market Avenue and then up and back to the college lot.

Bud Alcock has been with the parade committee since it began in the summer of 2011. He said the parades are getting bigger and better each and every year with families lining the parade route.

“The participation every year has been excellent,” said Alcock. “It started as a way of celebrating Christmas and has just grown since. It’s a nice break in the middle of winter. We recognized four and a half years ago that there was a need in the community. There was no central focus as to organizing the parades.”

Alcock and a couple of other community members formed the parade committee, which organize both the Santa parade and the Canada Day parade each year in Grand Forks. “Every parade we’ve done has grown each year,” he said. “The first Santa Parade we had a half dozen, maybe 10 floats. Last year we were up to around 30. Canada Day we started with about 15 and are now up to about 40-45 with different groups participating. We can see the effort we’ve put in is paying off.”

At the conclusion of the parade, around 7:45 p.m., the crowd will gather at Gyro Park for the second Christmas tree light up.

“The light up is going on this year,” said Alcock. “We’re having the vehicles go the other way (to Selkirk) so we don’t have a jam up of vehicles. So it’ll all be pedestrian traffic for that one block to Gyro Park.”

Santa Claus is expected to flip the switch at Gyro to light up the Christmas trees and officially begin the yuletide season.

The theme for this year’s Santa parade is “A Smokin’ Hot Christmas” in honour of all the firefighters who valiantly worked to protect the lives and property of area residents during the fire season of 2015.

“We want to honour all the firefighters, wildfire and municipal teams, that were here over the summer protecting us and our homes over the summer,” said Alcock. “We thought it would be an appopriate theme.”

Alcock said the local Grand Forks firefighters will be on hand for the parade and he is hoping that there will be representatives from the West Boundary fire departments and Christina Lake.

The parade committee is accepting parade entrants until Dec. 1. Entrance to the parade is free and open to walking groups and/or individuals, floats, horses, wagons, and more.

“Anyone can go in the parade,” said Alcock. “It’s completely free. There is no entry fee. We like people to stay on theme. We have prizes for first, second and third for those who stay on the theme. It’s a fairly short route but we advise people to dress warmly especially if they’re riding on a float.”

Alcock said there will be hot chocolate available for parade participants after the parade. He said there are about a dozen registered for the parade so far and Alcock expected that number should top 30 this year.

The parade this year is sponsored by the City of Grand Forks and Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce. See next week’s Gazette for more information on the 2015 Santa Parade.