Santa Parade aiming to be bigger, better

Downtown Maple Ridge is the place to be for the Christmas spirit, Dec. 5

Santa returns to the streets of Maple Ridge's downtown on Dec. 5.

Santa returns to the streets of Maple Ridge's downtown on Dec. 5.

The Santa Claus Parade in downtown Maple Ridge is shaping up to be at least as good as last year.

Christmas in the Park and the Santa Claus Parade drew an estimated 10,000 people to Memorial Peace Park last year.

This year the event will be held on Dec. 5, from 4-8 p.m. in the park on 224th Street.

Christmas Festival Society co-chair Dianne Enns said, with weather cooperating, the parade should again see 12,000 people.

She would also like to see the parade again reaching 65 to 70 entries, as it has at its peak.

It’s got a good start – there are already 42 registered entries, which was the total for last year, and many more are still expected.

Enns said the organizers have hit upon what they consider to be a successful formula for the celebration, so little will be changed this year.

Santa will be in the park to hear children’s Christmas wishes and have his photo taken with children for free. Most years, there are 3,000 to 5,000 people at the festivities in the park.

There will be craft-making, and Christmas passport activities for kids to explore in the park. Kids play the passport games, and get their passports stamped each time. Once completed, it can be returned as the entry into a prize draw.

The Burnett Fellowship Baptist Church will again present a live nativity scene.

There will be free popcorn and hot chocolate, and members of the public are asked to bring their own mug.

“This is an absolutely free event – we don’t allow any selling whatsoever,” said Enns.

The Christmas Festival Society will also collect donations of new, unwrapped toys for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society and non-perishable food items for the Friends in Need Food Bank, which can be dropped off at the tent in the park.

The parade starts at 6 p.m., but members of the public are advised to get their spot along the route early. There are floats, mascots, pipe bands and of course Santa Claus’ sleigh.

The Johnson Brothers, Brett and Trent Johnson, will perform an acoustic set of country music and Christmas carols at 7 p.m., after the parade.

The S-shaped parade route will start at the corner of 224th and Brown Avenue, go west down Brown to Plaza Street, turn south and continue down Plaza to Dewdney Trunk Road. It will then turn eastward, traveling along Dewdney Trunk Road back to 224th Street, where it will turn right (south). Then the parade will proceed past the park to Selkirk Avenue, where it will turn west (right), ending near 223rd.

• The deadline for parade entries is this Friday, Nov. 27. Email parade@mapleridgechristmasfestival.com for information.