“It’s back,” said Paul Orazietti. “It’ll be slightly smaller than previous years, but it’s back.”
Orazietti, the executive director of the Cloverdale BIA, was talking about Cloverdale’s Santa parade. The Surrey Santa Parade of Lights is officially returning Dec. 4 after a two-year, COVID-caused hiatus.
Orazietti added the parade will again run through the streets of downtown Cloverdale.
“We really had to do it,” he said. “We had no choice. People missed it and people want to get back to normal. And the city needs it.”
Orazietti said the cost to stage the event has gone up, but the BIA already has a few confirmed sponsors and some money in the bank (from saving on parades over the past two years).
He said the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce and the BIA have agreed to be co-presenting sponsors.
“It’s all systems go,” he said. “We’re in a post-pandemic situation, so we don’t know what the true cost of the event will be, but it’s all systems go.”
As the cost to host is rising, he’s actively soliciting sponsors and he’s confident he’ll get the desired number signed by parade day.
He added G&F financial has come on as a silver sponsor already and he’s hoping he’ll land a gold sponsor by next week. He’s already approached past parade sponsors and many have indicated interest.
Orazietti’s received about 30 float applications so far from across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. Most are parade veterans, he noted, but some applications are from first-timers.
“I’m excited about the entries coming back and the new entries,” he said. “This parade is going to be as strong as the last parade.”
Orazietti said the parade will be shorter this year.
“Because we can’t stage on the track, as there is horseracing that night, or where (the film set of) Smallville is, we have to stage behind the curling rink.”
He said because of the smaller marshalling area, the city capped the parade length at 4,000 feet.
Orazietti had 85 entries in the 2019 parade with total parade feet topping out at 4,800. As such, he reckons he’ll only have between 70 and 75 entries this year.
“I think this year’s parade will be better,” he added. “We’ll have higher quality floats. There’s some that have been with us for years and they keep adding to what they’re doing. They really get into the spirit of it and that part, for me, is sort of exciting, to see who’s back bigger and better than ever.”
He noted the Surrey Santa Parade of Lights has never just been about a parade. There’s also been a charity component to the annual event. Something this year, he thinks, will be just as important as it ever was.
“The other part of this—and I think the need is going to be greater than ever—is that people are realizing this is a vehicle for generosity,” Orazietti said. “With that comes different groups and churches that have contacted us about wanting to make donations of food.”
Orazietti said they’ll have donation bins set up in Hawthorne square, at the Museum of Surrey, and in other locations yet to be determined. He’s encouraging people to bring down non-perishable food items and/or toys.
“We’re supporting three main charities this year,” he added. “The (Cloverdale) Christmas Hamper Program, the food bank, and the Surrey Christmas Bureau.”
As for the actual parade, Orazietti said the casino asked the BIA not to block the intersection at 177B Street (the casino’s main entrance) and that, coupled with the lack of a larger marshalling area, are the “main reasons,” the parade route was shortened.
“Basically, we’re going straight off the Fairgrounds,” he explained. “It’s going to be a crazy night on the Fairgrounds. We’ll be marshalling floats. The casino will be open. Lumagica is on. And there’ll be horseracing. It’s going to be busy.”
The parade will come out of the Fairgrounds’ marshalling area next to the curling rink, pass Shannon Hall and the B.C. Vintage Truck Museum and parade straight down 176A Street to 57th Avenue. The floats will turn west on 57th for one block and pivot north up 176th Street. They’ll then take a west turn at 58th Avenue before ending at Hwy 15.
Orazietti said in talking with local business owners, everyone is excited the parade is returning.
“I think the event will grow as word gets out,” he said. “Once that happens, people will be excited about it again and want to get involved. We have to rebuild after being gone for two years.”
Orazietti said he’s talked to many that want to be actively involved, whether that’s becoming a sponsor or volunteering in some capacity.
“People want to be a part of it again,” he said. “Whether that’s supporting it, helping in some way, or just bringing down a toy or a can of food, people are excited the parade is back.”
The Surrey Santa Parade of Lights will begin at 5 p.m. Dec. 4 on the Fairgrounds and wend its way through downtown Cloverdale. Parade-goers are encouraged to bring down a toy or a non-perishable food item to be donated to charity.