By Linda Dillman
Santa Claus is coming to Canal Winchester and the sixth annual Holiday Lights Parade will still roll on down the road this year as part of the city’s annual Christmas in the Village event Dec. 4-5.
However, keeping socially distant and making accommodations for COVID-19 restrictions is changing both the way event organizers prepare and conduct the festivities.
“This year we have had to resort to many more phone calls versus just sitting down to plan over a box of pizza,” said parade co-coordinator Jill Amos. “We miss our nights of laughter planning to light the night up. With COVID, we have had a few scheduled times, but for the most part we are calling and texting and then waiting for responses.”
Amos, along with fellow co-coordinators Rick and Beth Deeds begin the planning process in the summer, reviewing what went well and what needs improvement. At the top of the list this year was the starting point of the parade and the day it takes place.
“When we held the parade on Friday, it would shut down Gender Road during rush hour and it is not true that everyone loves a parade, when it is preventing them from going home on a Friday night,” said Amos. “The change to Saturday will help us to alleviate the problems of the traffic. We are lucky to have several people that have jumped on over the years to help us out. Jim Bohnline from the Westchester Homeowners Association, the Brockstrong Foundation, and resident Karla McKeon joined us last year for the planning of this fantastic event. We are also fortunate enough to have the Goddard School representative Heather Kamer and this year Harris Lane & Co.’s Erin Johnson pitching in not only to sponsor but also to help with the event.”
The 2020 parade is Saturday, Dec. 5 and steps off at 5:10 p.m. from Canal Winchester High School. It arrives in the downtown area by 6 p.m. The route was expanded this year in order to offer more people the opportunity of viewing the parade.
In 2014, the first year of the Holiday Lights Parade, approximately 10 floats/vehicles participated. Last year, there were more than 40 vehicles in the parade. Families and residents of entire streets are part of the lighted parade flotilla, winding their way on floats, bicycles and even golf carts through the streets of Canal Winchester.
Parade regulars include the CWHS Marching Band, the Canal Winchester Labor Day queens and their court, and Santa. This year, Amos said to expect a lawn mower riding along the parade route and, although she keeps trying to convince someone to pull a boat in the parade, no one has taken her up on it yet.
Christmas in the Village, a partnership between the city and Destination:Canal Winchester, will be held Dec. 4-5 from 6-9 p.m. with drive-thru Santa visits. Residents will drive down Liberty Street via Washington Street to the Stradley Park greenspace behind the municipal building where Santa awaits his visitors along with some special friends like Rudolph, Frosty and Gingy the gingerbread woman, who will hand out special surprises.
Participation in the drive-thru event is limited to those inside vehicles. No walk-up visitors will be permitted.
The Queen of the Line Depot along the railroad tracks will be lit during the event and members of the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society will sell vintage Canal Winchester street signs and wreaths inside the Hockman Room in the O.P. Chaney Elevator from 9 a.m.-noon on Dec. 5.
“What our families need is something that hasn’t changed, except for the better,” said Amos. “We have said or heard this is an unprecedented year too many times. To close out the year, I want unprecedented in the city of Canal Winchester to mean that the parade went on and was more magical, the stores opened their doors with the magic of the holidays safely for us to enjoy, and the mayor and his group worked magic making Christmas in the Village still something for families to enjoy. I want unprecedented to stand for the strength in this community in making the magic of the season come alive.”
For information visit www.cwholidaylightsparade.com or contact Karen Stiles, Destination:Canal Winchester Executive Director at 614-270-5053.