LAC LA BICHE - Last Thursday, with a little over two weeks until the Lac La Biche Light Up the Night Santa Parade, only two floats had registered.
But organizers of the Dec. 1 community night of festive fun and activities aren’t too worried — just yet.
Heather Stromquist, the manager of economic development and tourism for Lac La Biche County, said while low entries in the weeks leading up to the parade are something organizers are wary about, at the end of the day, the event always goes on.
“Each year, we get nervous about the low entries leading up to the event and then it somehow comes together,” Stromquist told Lakeland This Week. “I’m not as nervous this year because it always does.”
The Light Up the Night event has been an annual event in the community for the last decade and features a downtown parade where residents watch brightly lit floats making their way to the large holiday tree. Once the parade ends, the newly-selected junior citizen of the year flicks the switch to light the tree with hundreds of colourful decorations. Downtown stores remain open for the event with curbside hot chocolate and snacks up for grabs.
Stromquist is hopeful that the crowds who line Main Street to watch this year’s parade will get to see at a minimum 25 floats. She added that the deadline for entries is Nov. 26, although entries may be accepted a little after the deadline date.
“Parade entries come in slow, but we are always amazed at how the various groups, businesses, and individual community members come together by the day of the event to make the parade magical,” she said.
With the new construction and the continuing disruptions taking place due to the upgrades of the Lac La Biche Recreation Grounds, some aspects of the parade will see changes this year. The staging area for this year’s Santa Parade is in the parking lot of the Lac La Biche County Museum. From there, the floats will make their way west on Main Street towards the big tree at the Northern Lights Public Schools building on 101 B Avenue.
The tree lighting as well as the Junior Citizen of the Year are part of the festivities taking place that evening. Stromquist said the tree has already been donated by a local resident and will be installed before the end of the month on the front lawn of the of the Northern Lights Public Schools building. She said an engineered tree sleeve is already in place on the front lawn along with stabilizing supports, to help ensure tree stability.
This year’s big tree — a 40-foot spruce — is coming from the Holowachuk Estates subdivision, where she said the current property owner was already planning to cut it down since it was getting to be a bit of a hazard.
The tree will now be safely removed, transported by a flat-bed truck, and hoisted in place with a crane. All of the work that goes into cutting, moving, installing and lighting the tree is done by donation from local businesses.
Anyone wanting to enter a float in the Santa Parade can fill out a Google form link in the digital version of this story at www.lakelandtoday.ca. Online forms can also be found in the same article for Junior Citizen of the Year nominations. Coming into the new week, Stromquist said there are currently three nominations for Junior Citizen of the Year put forward.
In addition to the parade and the tree lighting, there will be other events that evening to help capture the festive spirit in the downtown area.
Stromquist said the committee provides the framework for the evening and local businesses, community groups and organizations are all welcome to enhance the event. She said Light up the Night is an opportunity for Main Street businesses to light up and decorate their stores, offer promotions, and encourage people to visit their locations, which adds to the magic of the event.
“Coca-Cola is scheduled to come with their Christmas truck, and we have heard Santa plans to catch a ride with them down Main Street, along with our chosen Junior Citizen of the Year,” she said.
The Light up the Night event and Santa Parade is not only a fun time for people of all ages, but the annual winter event is also an economic generator for Lac La Biche County and local businesses, says Stromquist.
“The group is hopeful that businesses will stay open late, offer promotions or other enticements to encourage people to shop local and enhance the overall event,” she stated. “The parade is extremely well attended, encourages families to stay in the community to enjoy what we have to offer,” she said.
People wanting to get involved can find details on the Light Up the Night social media pages.
Stromquist and the local organizing committee are looking forward to the fun night.
“The event is free to attend, and many from surrounding areas and neighbouring communities travel in to attend the event.”