It’s that time of year again. This year marks the forty-first anniversary of Branford’s annual Santa Claus Parade, hosted by the Junior Chamber International (JCI). Shawn Stemmler, the head chair for this year’s parade committee, is very excited. This year’s theme is Christmas in film.
“When we pick a theme we usually try to keep them pretty broad so people and groups can use their imagination to come up with the best float they can based on their ability. Christmas in film can mean many things. I personally think of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, or my favourite Christmas movie, The Christmas Story,” said Stemmler.
Originally a daytime event, the parade was changed to take place in the evening (beginning at 7 p.m.) so that more lights could be added to the floats to add a little pizazz.
JCI also organizes the logistics of making the parade happen: applying for road closures, hiring bands, and so on. Many outside groups and agencies, such as City of Brantford Parks, police and fire departments, and Brant County Ambulance, help JCI ensure that the parade is a success.
JCI always hosts the Santa Claus float that ends the parade.
“The float is in pretty good shape, so we are not planning on any major overhauls for this season, although we do need to get our ninth reindeer back, so we will be looking at fixing that,” said Stemmler. “Since Santa’s real reindeer are in preparation for Christmas at the North Pole, we cannot use them for the actual parade. Plus I think they would travel a bit too fast for us to be able to see them.”
“My goal is that all children – and big kids like myself – come out with a smile on their faces and that the event is an enjoyable and safe experience for all involved, including the participants, spectators and volunteers,” said Stemmler.
Many volunteers help to create floats for the Christmas parade, including Brantford’s Freedom House Church. Dave Carrol, the community pastor of the Freedom House Church, explained that the church have been part of the parade for 10 years.
The Freedom House Church is a non-denominational church that is inclusive of people from many different backgrounds. Their role is to serve the city and to spread kindness. University students come to the church to find friends and community.
The Freedom House Church is currently preparing their float for the parade.
“Nationwide trucks came to us a couple years ago and donated them to us, but we don’t get the trucks until the day of the parade, so on parade day, the truck pulled in and we got to work,” said Carrol. “Our float has been living nativity for the last bunch of years. It’s a play we do in Harmony Square every Dec. 11, 12 and 13.”
For the float, the freedom church puts on a full stable to recreate the stage on the truck. They have always used this float, as it’s a tradition for them.
“I love anything that gets the community together. I love the atmosphere in the city when everyone does something together at once, and the Santa Claus Parade does that for me. That’s my favourite part,” said Carrol
Make sure to check out Brantford’s annual Santa Clause parade on Nov. 28, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. starting on Colborne Street and Second Avenue.