Days after it was announced the Santa Claus parade wouldn’t be returning, a new sponsor has stepped up to ensure Santa’s sleigh makes its way down Regina’s streets.
Wheaton Kia announced it will be sponsoring the parade for 2018.
Greg Gilbertson, general manager of Wheaton Kia, said they were pretty disappointed when they heard the parade was going to be canceled this year.
“Its been a tradition in this city as long as I could remember, so we just felt it was something that needed to continue and we’re going to do our best to put on a great parade this year,” Gilbertson said.
The date and start time will remain the same as it has in previous years — Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. — but the route will be changing. The parade will begin at the Wheaton Kia dealership and then make its way north on Albert Street.
Gilbertson said he’s taken his daughter to the parade in the past.
“We’ve had cold days and warm days.”
Gilbertson said they are setting up a Facebook page to help find participants, both old and new, to take part in it.
He said he’s already gotten permit approval from Regina police for the parade route.
Regina Chamber says Santa parade was based on retail market
The Regina Chamber of Commerce says the changing retail market was what originally drove the traditional Santa parade out of town.
“It’s sad given the fact that it’s been a mainstay in Regina for many, many years – 32 years I guess for Southland Mall,” Regina Chamber CEO John Hopkins said after the mall announced the Santa parade will not go ahead on Albert Street next month.
Hopkins recalled the history of Santa parades in major cities, noting that they were originally tied to retail sales.
“In downtown Toronto back in 1902, it was Eatons that was involved and it was a way to drive retail sales and bring people into downtown for the Christmas season and I suspect it was very much the same here in Regina, but things have changed dramatically,” he commented.
Hopkins pointed out the advent of radio, television and the internet has dramatically changed the way any store markets to customers. Although marketing strategies have shifted, he understands the disappointment many families might be feeling.
“It’s more of a community tradition for many many people and we certainly get that, there’s no question about that,” he said, noting that he took his own kids to the Santa parade over the years.
“But at the end of the day it costs money to do these types of things and, to a certain degree, you need to look at the cost-benefit analysis and make your decisions based on that as well as the trends that are occurring,” Hopkins said.
He said the Chamber of Commerce hasn’t heard any talk from members so far about any businesses interested in taking it over, but wouldn’t rule out that possibility in the future.
“There may be a movement in the community to look at doing something, that’s happened in other communities like Toronto. Toronto’s Santa Claus parades sort of ebbed and flowed and almost didn’t happen but it still happens now.”
Hopkins pointed out many communities now hold Santa parades in the downtown area and said anything is possible in the future.
The mall made the announcement this week a month before the parade usually happens, explaining the event has become more difficult to run over the past few years. As an alternative, the mall is focusing its efforts on a charity drive to help out families in need and will be hosting celebrations to welcome Santa indoors.
— With files from Adriana Christianson