Beverly Osachoff (third from the left) poses for a photo with the Warriner family, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Beverly Osachoff (third from the left) poses for a photo with the Warriner family, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Grand Forks parade marshal steps down

Beverly Osachoff recalls fond memories over her long and happy tenure

After more than a decade at the helm, parade marshal Beverly Osachoff hopes to pass on her baton.

She’d volunteered to head Grand Forks’ parade committee after moving from Vancouver in late 2010, never having put a parade together in her life. Her legacy, capped by last December’s Santa Claus parade, got underway the way legacies typically start for longtime volunteers in the city.

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“I was new in town and I thought, ‘This’ll be a fun way to meet new people.’ And, I was right — I even got to meet Santa Claus,” she told The Gazette Wednesday, March 16.

Rachel Warriner smiles atop the Warriner Express shortly before Grand Forks’ 2021 Canada Day parade. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Rachel Warriner smiles atop the Warriner Express shortly before Grand Forks’ 2021 Canada Day parade. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

She’d marshalled around two dozen parades by the time it was all over. There were Canada Day parades every July 1, Santa parades every December — even parades ahead of a few Grand Forks and District Fall Fairs.

It’d been easy for the most part, she said. She’d had plenty of help over the years not just from the committee, but also from Boundary Community Futures’ Anna Lactin and Grand Forks’ Downtown Business Association.

Lactin had been the driving force behind the city’s Canada Day parades in particular.

“It never would’ve happened without Anna’s hard work. She was the one who wrote all the grant applications and got in touch with all the dignitaries and just generally cracked the whip and got us all going,” Osachoff said.

Last year’s Canada Day parade was a hit with small children, despite the blistering heat. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Last year’s Canada Day parade was a hit with small children, despite the blistering heat. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

The Warriner family had been a huge support more recently. It’s doubtful that there would’ve been a Santa parade before the past two pandemic Christmases without Gabe and Rachel, their children Madison, Emma and Aiden and their significant others helping to pull Santa’s and Mrs. Claus’s sleigh.

The same goes for Grand Forks’ emergency first responders, including and especially Grand Forks Fire/Rescue.

Osachoff could always count on their “whistles and sirens and lights and all kinds of fun things” to make things even easier for the committee. The fire department got so into it that kids along last year’s Santa parade route mistook volunteer members for pretend firefighters who’d come out just for the show.

Oliva Scott holds up three-year-old Oliver Lambeth, who excitedly asked to have his photo taken at Grand Forks’ Santa parade Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Oliva Scott holds up three-year-old Oliver Lambeth, who excitedly asked to have his photo taken at Grand Forks’ Santa parade Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Watching firefighters handing out candy to kids, Osachoff overhead one little boy ask his mom, “Did you see those guys dressed up as firemen?!’”

“But, they’re real firefighters,” an adult voice picked up.

The illusion clearly fell away but, somehow, the boy was even more thrilled.

“Wow, that’s cool!” he gasped.

Grand Forks RCMP had made it out to many a parade, as well. Rain, snow or sun, Mounties faithfully dawned their tawny brimmed hats, red serge and leather boots. It’s not easy marching in a Grand Forks Canada Day parade, when Osachoff said temperatures can soar into the mid-40s C.

“I was in full costume one year and I was struggling. Then I looked around and saw the Mounties had been in full uniform the whole time,” she said. “I had to tip my hat to them.”

Not even the pandemic could thwart the committee, even if it was a quintessential game-changer.

“COVID forced us to think outside the box,” Osachoff admitted.

There was a silver lining there, too. When the virus kept Santa parades out of downtown, the committee brought the parade to the city.

“One of the best things to come out of our drive-by parades was that we were able to engage a whole bunch of people who probably woudn’t have otherwise been able to come downtown on a dark, cold and icy night,” she said.

It’s been a wild ride, but Osachoff said it’s time to pack it in. She has other goals on her list and she wants to get at them while she still has time, she said.

“You might not see the end of me at parades, but I think it’s time for someone else to put their stamp on it. Sometimes, a re-branding is what keeps these things alive,” she said wistfully.

City hall has tendered bids for this year’s Canada Day celebration, which may or may not include a parade, according to the city’s filings on the government procurement website bcbid.com.

The winning bid will be selected April 4.


 

@ltritsch1
laurie.tritschler@grandforksgazette.ca

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laurie.tritschler@boundarycreektimes.com

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