The first nighttime Bracebridge Santa Claus Parade was an “awesome” success, according to Don MacKay with the Rotary Club of Bracebridge-Muskoka Lakes.
He says they have already decided to host the parade at night on Dec. 1, 2023. “We think we’ve hit a home run,” says MacKay.
While he admits there have been a few “differences of opinion” on the new format, he believes hosting it Friday night works best. “It was very, very effective to bring out the lights and the festive nature of the parade versus the daylight parade where you see everybody but the lights on the float don’t have the same effect,” he explains.
Aside from the positive reaction to the debut of the nighttime parade by those standing along Manitoba St., MacKay says the positivity continued with those who had floats in the parade and the shop owners in downtown Bracebridge that stayed open late. “Hopefully they benefit from that,” he says about the many merchants that kept their doors open.
MacKay says Rotarians are meeting Tuesday morning to go over feedback more in-depth and begin planning for next year’s parade.
There were 80 floats in the parade. MacKay says it got to the point where some had to be turned away because there wasn’t enough space to accommodate them.
Of note, MacKay says he was happy to see Fowler Construction have a float in the parade and be able to pull Santa Claus’ float, as they have done for many years. A fire devastated one of the main buildings at Fowler’s yard in Bracebridge. MacKay says the building was the one that was holding Santa’s float but, thankfully, it had been removed the night before. MacKay says the day after the fire, he received a call from John McBride, Vice President of Fowler. “He was very emphatic that yes we’ve taken a major blow but we will be there,” says MacKay. “We will support the parade. He, on behalf of the company, was very committed to this event.”
MacKay says he appreciates all the work that went in behind the scenes. From his fellow Rotarians that went door-to-door on James St. – which had to be closed for the parade – letting homeowners know what would be happening to the many that helped set-up floats for the parade and, of course, the hundreds that took in the parade.
“Hopefully we set the tonne for the holidays with a great parade,” says MacKay.