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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Kingsville’s “Reverse” Santa Claus Parade receives incredible turnout

- this was the first re-imagined parade to take place in the region -

by Adam Gault

Santa Claus did not let the pandemic stop him from coming to town ahead of the Christmas season, and he made his first stop in Kingsville on the evening of Saturday, November 21 to take part in the first ever Drive-Through “Reverse” Santa Claus Parade.

  Approved by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, floats and attractions lined the parade route, which stretched from Spruce and Main Street East, west to Division, and south to Lakeside Park. The stationary parade allowed families to safely drive by the spectacle and enjoy a little early Christmas spirit, while adhering to all COVID-19 health guidelines.

  “We felt it was important, in light of the pandemic, and [because] we’ve seen so many different cancellations of events,” Kingsville Mayor, Nelson Santos, explained of the importance of holding the parade in a unique way. “To have an opportunity to lighten the spirits and get into the holiday spirit, that was very important.”

The Town of Kingsville – along with the Fantasy of Lights committee, Windsor Parade Corporation, main sponsor Ernie’s TV an Appliance, and countless volunteers – went to incredible lengths to ensure a smooth parade experience. Due to the overwhelming turnout, cars backed up Division Street North, with some waiting for hours to enter the parade route by Kingsville District High School.

  “The number of people and families looking to come into our community from across the region, and even the Chatham-Kent area was amazing,” Mayor Santos said. “We certainly couldn’t foresee or plan for this type of response, but I think it does play into the desire for people to be able to do things collectively within their bubble.”

  This was the first of a total of three drive-through Santa Claus parades the Windsor Parade Corporation will hold this year, with another to be held in Amherstburg this Saturday, November 28, and a final one in Windsor at a later date.

  The Kingsville Santa Claus Parade officially kicked off the annual Fantasy of Lights Festival, which features some familiar favourites this year, as well as a few new twists on some old favourites. Lakeside Park is currently decorated with a plethora of Christmas and seasonal light-up decorations, which everyone can check out from now until January 8, as well as at several additional locations throughout the municipality. 

Starting Tuesday, December 1, while supplies last, residents will also be able to pick up a Breakfast with Santa to Go Kit at the Kingsville Arena. The kit will include pancake mix, a holiday craft, and a letter from Santa.

  For some local Christmas shopping on the weekend of December 5 and 6, a market will be held at the Grovedale Arts and Cultural Centre and Lakeside Park Pavilion, featuring area vendors and artists with a selection of arts, crafts, baked goods, and local history books for sale.

And finally, in keeping with the spirit of giving, the Town of Kingsville is looking for donations for its annual Community Christmas Giving Tree. Located in the foyer in the Kingsville Area, residents are encouraged to donate non-perishable food items and books, which will be distributed to area food banks and people in need ahead of Christmas.

  “With the impact the pandemic has had on our economy, the loss of local jobs, businesses not experiencing a traditional year, it’s having a tremendous impact on them and their families,” Mayor Santos commented on the importance of supporting others in the community. “It’s equally important to provide opportunities to give back in some form or another and support families in need across our community.”

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