Downtown Airdrie will ring in the holiday season Dec. 7, with the return of the annual Santa Claus Parade at 4:30 p.m.
Hosted by the Airdrie Parade Committee (APC), the event will see 35 brightly decorated floats make their way down Main Street.
“We’ve been so fortunate over the years,” said APC chair Leona Esau. “Ever since [APC] started hosting this in 2012, we’ve worked really hard with entrants to really enhance their floats. Now, we even have them competing amongst one another.”
The parade route will be from 6 Avenue N.W. to Ridgegate Way S.W., according to Esau.
One of Airdrie’s longest-standing holiday traditions, Esau said anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 people typically attend the Santa Claus Parade, depending on the weather. She said the event’s popularity stems from keeping it short – the procession lasts just 30 to 35 minutes.
“It’s a fantastic parade because the vast majority of the floats are lit, and have music playing from them,” she said. “Sometimes, there are walking groups, dancing and entertaining the crowd.
“And of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus come at the end of the parade to wrap up the family-friendly event.”
Along with the Claus' horse-drawn wagon, Esau said there are many other crowd favourites.
“We’ve had entries from [Blue Grass Ltd. Nursery, Sod and Garden Centre] and their floats are always amazing,” she said. “We’ve had our own City vehicles with lights on them that look fantastic. Some of our pet organizations in town go crazy and put lots of lights on, even lighting up the dogs that accompany them.”
This year, the parade marshals are the 2020 Alberta Winter Games board of directors, which will be heading the procession with a cheer squad.
According to Esau, APC has moved the parade to 4:30 p.m. to encourage attendees to follow up the event by taking in the arrival of the CP Holiday Train at Nose Creek Park at 5:45 p.m., and afterward, checking out the Airdrie Festival of Lights.
“They can make a whole evening of it,” she said.
To accommodate the parade, Esau said, Main Street will be closed to motorists along the parade route from 4 to 6 p.m. She added the City will put up barriers on east-west thoroughfares, including First Avenue and Centre Avenue, to deter traffic from the area.
Motorists looking to travel north or south between 4 and 6 p.m. are encouraged to take alternate routes, according to Esau, such as 8 Street or Edmonton Trail.
“It’s not only easier for them to get in and out, but it sure helps with traffic jams afterwards, created by blocking off one of the main roads in Airdrie,” she said. “But I think we trade that off because it’s such a great community and family event.”
To further help minimize traffic congestion, Esau added, parade-goers are encouraged to find parking outside of downtown and walk in.