By Angelica Ingram
Marilyn and Jim Frost attended their first Haliburton Santa Claus parade in 1997.
There was snow on the ground and a sense of community in the air.
At the time the Frosts who are now a pair of familiar faces in town weren’t even living in Haliburton yet but wanted to get a sense of the place they would soon call home.
Owners of Down Home B&B and avid Lions Club members the Frosts purchased their home on Halloween day in 1997 and decided to drive up for the parade after they saw an ad in the Haliburton County Echo.
“We have a friend Larry Hussey who was up here and I asked him to get me a copy of the Echo” said Jim. “We found out when the Santa Claus parade was going to be and we came up here.”
Their decision to move to Haliburton came after attending a Santa Claus parade in Burlington which at the time was a much smaller town than it is now.
“They had a small town parade a lovely parade” said Marilyn. “And that’s when we got the idea [to move]. Before that we had always gone to the Toronto parade which was huge. But when we went to the Burlington parade it seemed so small and community like.”
The couple moved to Haliburton in 1998 and have been involved with the parade since 1999.
An annual tradition now for many decades the Haliburton Santa Claus parade hasn’t always happened on a Friday night as it now does.
The parade originated as a Sunday afternoon event starting out from in front of Lakeside Baptist Church.
The decision to switch it to a nighttime parade came more than 10 years ago and Jim was originally opposed to the idea.
“The BIA actually came to a Lions Club meeting and said what do you guys think about the idea of switching it to a night parade?” said Jim. “Personally I was not for it because it was such a community event … and I could see it would be a financial burden because they would have to get generators and lights on their float and I thought it might be a bit of an impediment. Was I ever wrong.”
The switch proved to be successful and the parade has only grown since then.
“It just took off it was phenomenal” said Jim.
“The streets are full” said Marilyn.
The parade is now a full night affair with a tree lighting held prior to the start and the annual Winter Warm-up held after at the Haliburton Legion.
The Winter Warm-Up features live music a spaghetti dinner and a free gift for all children.
“The word warm-up is appropriate; it is warming” said Jim.
An initiative of the Haliburton and District Lions Club and Haliburton Business Improvement Area the parade is held on the evening of the Friday that follows the Toronto Santa Claus parade. Their parade is always held the Sunday following Remembrance Day said Jim.
This year the Haliburton parade will take place Friday Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m.
The theme is The Colours of Christmas in the Highlands something that was thought of by the theme committee which has two members jokes Jim.
“I’m the chair and Marilyn’s the vice-chair.”
The pair are hoping the artistic community gets behind the idea and shows off their skills.
Themes get reused and effort is made to coincide with the Minden Santa Claus parade which always takes place on the following day.
That sense of community the Frosts saw in 1997 still exists to this day with dozens of floats bands businesses and organizations taking part in the parade every year.
Starting out at Pine Street the parade route goes down Highland Street and turns at York Street ending in front of the Rails End Gallery.
“Because it’s such a short area everyone is together and that’s a benefit” said Jim. “You hear children laughing … and I think that’s nice.”
One of the highlights for everyone is of course the arrival of Santa Claus on his float complete with reindeer and a real sleigh.
For the Frosts the float is a symbol of teamwork and the true nature of this community.
“The Santa float belongs to the Lions club” said Marilyn. “It’s a massive endeavour it was built years ago.”
“There were four people involved in making that float. We’re very proud of that float” said Jim. “We actually get calls from other communities asking to borrow that float because it’s so unique.”
The club does not lend it out because it doesn’t travel well and the work that would be involved in replacing it. It took months to build.
On the night of the parade the road is closed with the help of Fowler Construction which is “such a bonus” and parking is not permitted on Highland Street something that started with a letter written by a local teenager.
“We didn’t used to control parking” said Jim. “The letter writer highlighted that controlling parking would be safer for families and kids.”
Jim contacted the teenager and asked for her help the following year to control parking with signs posted on the parking metres.
“Now it’s a given” he said. “I’m glad she did that.”
This year the Lions Club will be collecting items for the local food bank and monetary donations which will be matched by both the Lions and the Haliburton Rotary Club.
Letters to Santa Claus will also be collected.
Ugly Sweater Run this Sunday
Also coming up this weekend is the annual Ugly Sweater Run/Walk an initiative of the Dysart recreation department.
Now in its third year the event is taking place on Sunday Nov. 22 beginning and ending at the Haliburton Highlands Museum.
Registration is at 11 a.m. and the run/walk starts at noon. There is a five kilometre route or 1.5 km route through Glebe Park people can do.
This year the event is a fundraiser for the Junction Skate Park which is raising money for a facelift. Dysart recreation co-ordinator Andrea Mueller is asking participants to bring $10 per adult for the cause. The plan is to pick a new community initiative every year to fundraise for said the co-ordinator.
Last year about 50 people came out to join in on the fun all decked out in something tacky.
“We’re looking for a similar turnout again” said Mueller. “I even noticed that one of the local stores is selling ugly sweaters.”
If you don’t own an ugly sweater Mueller encourages you to make one saying something nice can be made to look tacky quite easily.
“We like the ones where people are creative on their own” she said. “Even just putting a piece of garland on … it’s a cost effective way to have one.”
Following the run/walk there will be refreshments offered in the museum and live Christmas music courtesy of Bill Gliddon.
“He came last year and it was so nice to have the live music” she said.