Paul Olson is hoping there will be a break in the Maple Ridge Christmas tradition this year.
Instead of heavy rain pelting down on dark city streets this Saturday night, Dec. 1, Olson is hoping for clear, night skies, which he says are in the forecast and will make two of Maple Ridge’s Christmas traditions, Christmas in the Park and the Santa Claus Parade, more enjoyable.
Olson, president of the Maple Ridge Christmas Festival Society, has heard the weather might be different this year instead of the downpours that have usually greeted Santa as he winds through Maple Ridge streets.
“We’ve had pouring, pouring rain and you still get 12,000 people out. So you know what, we’re good to go. These people are hardcore for a parade.”
Christmas in Park goes this Saturday, Dec. 1, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Memorial Peace Park. There will be crafts, photos with Santa, decorations, music, cookies, hot chocolate and a mailbox to mail a letter to the jolly elf.
Christmas in the Park, which draws up to 12,000 people, draws to a close when Santa lights the big Christmas tree on 224th Street, signaling the start of the Santa Claus Parade, which starts at 6 p.m. on Dewdney Trunk Road and Plaza Street, jogs south on to 224th Street, then follows the winding road through Memorial Peace Park.
“We’ve had more floats than last year and actually I think seven brand new floats. So that’s new. Community people are getting involved with it, which is awesome,” Olson said.
This year, the commercial floats are being asked to pay $50 to cover increasing traffic control costs, while non-profit groups will still be part of the parade at no charge.
“It’s been really great for people to step up and be OK,” with the new $50 fee, because money is tight for everyone, he added.
He said between 80 to 100 volunteers usually help out but with schools no longer requiring students to have volunteer hours, it’s more difficult to get kids to help out.
In addition, four churches are involved this year to help out the volunteers from Burnett Fellowship Church.
“It’s going to be a good parade. There’s some good connection with lots of different community stores and businesses which is great. Just really grateful for their generosity.”