CARP – Tim Horton’s has never seen anything like the line-up of cars patiently waiting to take part in Ottawa’s hit of the season, the 11th Annual Carp Santa Claus Parade – Drive Thru Style last Saturday (Dec. 12).

Carp’s two main arteries, Carp Road (east and west out of the village) and Donald B. Munro Drive, were filled with vehicles filled with families looking to participate in one of Ottawa and the Valley’s only Santa Claus parades this year. It was a parade of festive-coloured brake lights all headed to the Carp Fairgrounds. On Carp Road west the line-up extended to Craig Henry Side Road about 15 minutes before the gates were set to open at 7 p.m. Along Donald B. Munro the line-up passed Langstaff Road.

The 9th Carp Pathfinder Rangers keep warm by the fire during a parade that saw nearly 1,000 cars.
The 9th Carp Pathfinder Rangers keep warm by the fire during a parade that saw nearly 1,000 cars. Photo by Jake Davies

At roughly 7:40 p.m., the line-up of vehicles along Carp Road eastbound extended far past the March Road intersection. In the end, according to District 6 Fire Chief Bill Bell, who’s volunteer firefighters greeted visitors and accepted donations, around 980 vehicles came through the gates.

This year’s parade was redesigned to accommodate COVID-19 regulations and event organizers the Huntley Community Association (HCA) and the Carp Agriculture Society (CAS) truly thought outside the box to come up with an idea that would work for all.

At this year’s parade, the floats were set up along a path through the Carp Fairgrounds and parade-goers drove through the trail of parade floats. Not only did this plan make the event COVID-safe, it kept the crowds dry, unlike last year’s parade held on another rainy day. The same could not be said for participating volunteers.

HCA director Wanda Clark was one of the hearty volunteers on the HCA’s float this year. Despite steady rain and high winds, she loved being out there.

“I’m glad it was so well-attended,” Clark told West Carleton Online this morning (Dec. 14) after finally drying out. “The people coming through, really did enjoy it. The smiles on their faces were huge. The number of people that thanked us for putting it on. Unbelievable. A lot of credit to those who waited in the line-ups to attend. I don’t know how you could have organized it any other way.”

Alan's Landscaping and Heather's Garden were one of several local businesses taking part in the parade.
Alan’s Landscaping and Heather’s Garden were one of several local businesses taking part in the parade that had in the area of 50 stationary floats. Photo by Jake Davies

Clark said she was prepared for the weather, stealing her husband’s oilskin jacket and wearing it over top of her regular jacket.

“It was good, except for the weather,” Clark said of her time on the float. “It was raining the whole time and it was windy. Sometimes strong and brutal.”

Organizers opened the gates early and kept them open late at least an hour past the expected end time of 9 p.m. to accommodate the long line of participants.

“Someone said it’s 7:07 p.m. and I was like, wow,” Clark said. “Then the time just started to fly by. It was an endless stream. We did do a little ‘hallelujah’ when we saw the last car lights.”

And by the time the last car headed home, the event had raised $12,334.50 for the West Carleton Food Access Centre (WCFAC) as well as a mountain of donated food. Toy Mountain representatives were also on hand collecting donations.

The McClymonts and Bennetts packed in to one car to enjoy the parade.
The McClymonts and Bennetts packed in to one car to enjoy the parade. Photo by Jake Davies

Clark says the parade organizing credit goes to CAS board member Annie Craig and “her crew.”

“Evelyn James, Pat Wilson, and many other volunteers,” Clark said. “They were here most of the day Wednesday. All day Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for clean-up. We couldn’t do this without all those volunteers.”

Craig released a statement yesterday (Dec. 13), thanking a long list of people for their help with the parade.

“It truly takes a village to make it happen,” Craig said. “I would like to take this time to say thank you. Thank you to the CAS and the HCA for a great parade. A big thank you to the Parade committee for all your hard work from painting tires, painting pallets, to my crazy ideas for the North Pole. For taking every idea we had and making it happen. Thank you to all the participants who worked so hard on their floats and braved the weather. They were all beautiful. One big thank you to our community, each and every family that went through the gates last night, thank you. We all came together to raise a lot of money and collect a lot of food for the WCFAC and toys for Toy Mountain. Without you we wouldn’t have been able to help our community fill their Christmas dream.”

Scroll down for more photos:

 

The Landstrom float.
The Landstrom Contracting float, including Halle Witney, 8, and Kate Buch, 12, (far right), also volunteered services to set up the parade. Photo by Jake Davies

 

The HCA float.
Wanda Clark, far left, and other members of the HCA board greeted visitors all parade long braving rain and ‘brutal’ winds at times. Photo by Jake Davies