Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad

Shhhhh ... Santa's coming

Jennifer Geens
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 12/04) - Groups of community-minded people are meeting secretly night after night in undisclosed locations around town, plotting.

Santa and Mrs. Claus huddle for warmth at last year's Yellowknife Santa Claus parade. More warming buses will be on hand this year to keep parade-goers from freezing solid. - NNSL file photo

They're not organizing a coup d'etat. They're concocting floats for this year's Santa Claus Parade.

Though most have been planning their creations for months, the details of each group's float are highly classified.

Northland Utilities, CBC North, Polar Tech, NWT Rock Services, Yk 1, NACC, Diavik, St.Pat's/St.Joe's/Weledeh and NorthwesTel are a few of the organizations that have signed up to enter a float in the parade so far.

Floats are expected to be a variation on the parade's theme, which is "Twas the night before Christmas."

The NWT Riders won last year in the not-for profit category for their float.

Jeff Pitre, acting president of the organization, acknowledged that competition in float design is always stiff.

All he would reveal about this year's NWT Riders float was that there would be a float, and that there would be riders.

"People might steal our ideas," he said in a good humoured way.

Last year, the Riders had bikers in black leather and santa hats hand out candy canes, sometimes stuffing them into people's pockets.

The staff at Polar Tech have been planning their entry since last year and are already hard at work on their float. At this time of year, the parade becomes a priority.

"We do it at night," said parts manager Chris Brown.

"And anything that gets the guys in here at night must be important."

Marty Brown, in charge of the CBC North entry, said planning a Santa Claus Parade float requires "many trips to the dump for free stuff."

Brown was also mum on details about her group's float.

"It involves music," she said, and that's as much as she would reveal.

She said the change to a nighttime parade three years ago can complicate matters.

"You need a generator, and someone who knows how to work a generator," she said.

Technical advisors have to get out their calculators and tabulate how many volts the generators can put out, compared to how many volts each string of lights and speakers requires.

Yellowknife's Santa Claus parade is about 20 years old.

Brown said it was sensible for Yellowknife to stick to a Canada Day parade for so long, and avoid marching down Franklin in the dead of winter.

"You'd have tuba players' lips freezing to the tubas," she said.

Odessa Hewlko, special events co-ordinator for the City of Yellowknife, said only around 17 floats are registered for the 2004 parade, in comparison to more than 20 last year.

"It's considerably smaller this year," she said.

Some businesses and organizations which had registered for the parade have withdrawn. People are just busier than usual this year, she said.

There are few rules regulating parade entries, but anything given to bystanders on the parade route has to be handed out by runners, not thrown from the float.

Yellowknife's third Santa Claus Parade to be held at night gets underway Nov. 20 at 6 p.m.

The parade will follow the same route as last year, with the rally point at Sir John Franklin high school, then travelling along 52nd Avenue to 49th Street. The parade loops up 49th Street, across Franklin, down 51st Street and back to Sir John Franklin along 52nd Avenue.