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Santa’s coming to Tillsonburg for Nov. 20 parade

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Santa and Mrs. Claus are coming to town Saturday, Nov. 20 for Tillsonburg’s Community Christmas and Hometown Hockey Parade.

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The 1.5-kilometre parade fun starts at 11 a.m. from the Avondale church parking lot. The parade route – new this year – will head south to Oxford Street, west to Broadway, north to Bridge Street, east (at Canadian Tire) to Lisgar Avenue, and then south back to the starting/finishing point.

“We’re really scrambling for time now, but it’s going well,” said Cathy Ryan, a member of the five-person grassroots community parade committee, which includes Chris Kersten, Patti McCarragher, Melodie Boyle and Shayla Taylor.

“Chris Kersten has been doing a lot of the legwork, handing out fliers. We have quite a few businesses from town that will be in the parade… The Shriners will be there, and we have quite a few health care workers that want to be part of it, so they are putting their float together. I think we have 14 to 15 floats so far.”

All businesses that would like to participate are asked to contact Kersten at 519-842-0618 or email chriskersten89@gmail.com . Information on the parade is regularly posted on Facebook (Talk Tillsonburg).

The Town of Tillsonburg is supporting the parade – managing the paperwork and organizing the route as part of the special events permit.

“It seems to be coming together,” said Chris Baird, Director of Recreation, Culture and Parks, noting they had already started the process for a Hometown Hockey parade, then suggested ‘why don’t we all work together to organize the parade?’

“The focus is just as much Rogers Hometown Hockey as it is Santa Claus parade – and just local Tillsonburg pride. It has come together so fast and it’s less than two weeks away now.”

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Santa and Mrs. Claus will be riding in a sleigh on a flatbed trailer with a couple locally-recruited elves.

“He’s very, very excited,” said Ryan. “When I spoke to him he said, ‘Oh, I was just waiting for you to call me! I was hoping you’d ask us!’

“We’re going to be inviting parents to take photos with Santa at the end of the parade – not sitting on Santa’s lap, we can’t do that, but they can stand by the sleigh,” Ryan added. “We’re working on doing hot chocolate and we’re going to have candy there to give the kids.”

Rogers will be focusing on its Hometown Hockey event which starts Nov. 18-19 with festival setup and their ‘Paint the Town Red,’ decorating the downtown (including 22-foot red hockey sticks on Broadway and huge ‘pucks’ that will display festival information).

Day 1 of the Rogers Hometown Hockey festival begins Nov. 21 at 11 a.m. outside the Tillsonburg Community Centre, ending at 5 p.m. There will be town-organized fireworks (weather permitting) at Memorial Park Saturday night starting at 7 p.m. Day 2 of the festival on Sunday runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors need to pre-register for (free) tickets.

On Monday there will be a live broadcast from the festival site starting at 4 p.m. that will be shown before and during intermissions of the Pittsburgh/Winnipeg NHL game (in Winnipeg) that night.

“They (Rogers) will be interviewing some young kids that actually help pick the three stars at the end of the game,” said Baird. “They have their researchers doing all sorts of stuff for the hockey folklore and the local heroes.”

“We’ve had great reception for this,” said Ryan. “The majority of people are very, very excited. The Hometown Hockey festival will be bringing a lot of people into town – I think it should be a really good day, a really good parade.”

Tillsonburg’s Community Christmas and Rogers Hometown Hockey Parade will be one of many Santa parades in the surrounding area this year, including Delhi, Ingersoll, Aylmer and Woodstock.

cabbott@postmedia.com

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