By Lethbridge Herald on November 27, 2023.
Justin Seward – LETHBRIDGE HERALD
The 40th annual Fort Macleod Santa Claus Parade filled the community with Christmas cheer on Saturday.
Attendees could enjoy watch buffalo rider Joel Lybbert, the reindeer, Santa Claus, floats from everywhere, dancers, band performances, pipe bands, old antique cars and cadets to name a few.
“It is a huge thing,” said Sydney Tobler, Santa Clause Parade coordinator.
“There’s a man named Jim Mountain, who started this in 1982, and the vision for him was just to bring tourism to Fort Macleod because we were struggling. And Jim Mountain messaged me and he’s like I cannot believe it’s been 40 years and look what it has grown to. We bring in 10 to 15,000 people into a 3,000 person town. Last year we were told we got 20,000 people here, so that’s pretty incredible for a small town.”
The parade had close to 100 floats, which is an uptick from last year’s 42, but that low number was contributed to a rebuild out of the pandemic.
“I think just people remembering what it felt like to have the Santa Claus Parade,” said Tobler, on the increase in floats.
“We didn’t have it for two years and it was such a disappointment for our town, not just for the economic development or any of those kind of things, it was just really a disappointment because it just brings the Christmas spirit, no matter what walks of life you come from. And we have such an incredible community, that they all come together for Christmas. They want to help; everybody wants to help one another here in Fort Macleod.”
Tobler agreed the Christmas feeling from the parade lasts right up until Dec. 25.
“It’s the end of November and this just really brings the Christmas spirit to our community,” said Tobler.
The parade’s cost is more than $45,000 and is fully funded by Fort Macleod businesses.
“That is how much it means to our community,” said Tobler.
“We have residential people donating towards our parade and is very incredible that they come together and they want to see it continue.”
FP Walshe High School graduating student Allisa Ross was helping her classmates with the pancake breakfast and had been going to the parade for many years.
“I’ve also been coming to the parade every single year since I was really young,” said Ross.
“It’s kind of a tradition for our whole family. We come down, get the free hot chocolate and everything.”
Ross said it’s just happy, and joyful and fun for everyone.
The Fort Macleod Royal Purple Lodge had a small group being represented in the parade.
“I think for the Royal Purple, it’s just a chance to show how much we care about Fort Macleod, and being a part of Fort Macleod and it is a ton of fun to be in the parade,” said Niesje Vanden Dool, Royal Purple member.
Vanden Dool said people are happy.
“Everybody is waving, you feel really together and it’s just joy,” Vanden Dool.