A request for a change to Yarmouth’s annual Christmas season event – the parade – has been adopted by town council.
Barb Firth, who has been chair of the parade for many years, suggested a Christmas Festival be held instead.
The festival will be similar to Yarmouth’s SWITCH event, during which Main Street from Forest to Grand is closed to vehicular traffic. Stationary Christmas floats will be parked on the street and other holiday activities will be taking place.
Firth says this will be a way for the event to be safer.
Last year, on Nov. 24, four-year-old MaCali Cormier fell under a passing float in the town’s Christmas parade. She was transported by EHS to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital but sadly died.
“I know last year was hard. It was hard for everyone and we should never forget that, ever,” says Firth.
“This is a time to move forward and it’s time to get our community back together. I think we need some happy in this community and I’m certainly willing to give it a shot.”
The date for the event will be announced as planning progresses. A Merry Madness shopping component, involving participation from businesses, may also tie in with the festival.
Those entering floats in the festival must register first and park in a designated spot. No parked cars will be permitted along the street during the event.
Organizers will be working at establishing a transportation system, through volunteers and with the town. Firth says people that would have a hard time getting to the festival might be able to receive a pick up.
Her vision for the event has youngsters able to come and stand in front of a float… to be so close you can “see the wonder in their eyes.”
“That’s really what it’s about. It’s about that child-like joyfulness that everybody should have in their heart and a lot of people don’t. I just want to try and bring that back,” says Firth.
The theme is Jingle all the Way.
In a letter she had sent to town council seeking endorsement for the event, Firth had written: "Walkers will be able to walk the whole area to give out candy; people will be able to mill about in and out of stores, do some Christmas shopping. Music can be played by bands in certain areas. Frost Park will be accessible, the tree will be lit . . . We can also have awards as usual, with a drop point for the public to vote on their favourite entries." At their meeting on Aug. 8, Yarmouth town council was very enthusiastic about the idea and gave their support.
Firth says low trailers only will be permitted. Steps will be added to Santa’s float so children can have their picture taken with him.
“There’s a lot of advantages to having this non-moving,” she says.
Along with the parade change, a beloved memory from the past may be reinstated.
On Christmas Eve last year, Firth paid a visit to former town councillor Sandy Dennis, who passed away in February from cancer.
She told Firth she wished she could bring back Candy Cane Lane on Main Street. Firth told her she’d see what she could do. Although it may not be identical to the former display, something will be done. Each business may be asked to purchase a candy cane to put on display.
“I’d like to bring it back in some way," Firth says. "It won’t be like it was before because those candy canes were thousands of dollars each, but there will be something. We’ll figure out a way."
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