Wednesday, 30 November 2011 11:38

Throngs of southern Albertans turn out for annual parade

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By Jamie Woodford
Fort Macleod
Cold, slicing winds couldn’t keep children, or children at heart, from catching a glimpse of Santa Claus Nov. 26.
Bundled in their toques, mitts and scarves, and armed with blankets, chairs and hot chocolate, people packed Main Street during Fort Macleod’s 30th annual Santa Claus Parade — an event that kicks off the Christmas season for many southern Albertans.

With an “I’ll be home for Christmas” theme, the parade “absolutely” invoked the Christmas spirit for Madeleine Kurtz.

“It’s the time when my grandkids and kids come home,” she said, just as one of her teenaged granddaughters approached for a hug.

Kurtz then proudly introduced the rest of her clan.

She has attended 29 of the 30 parades in support of her hometown, and stakes out the same spot every year.

“Every year, we’re here at this spot,” she said. “I’ve been here since 9 o’clock.”

When asked what part of the parade she looks forward to most, she whispered, “Santa,” noting the role is a family tradition her husband used to fill.

Her son has now taken over the jolly duties.

“I think (the parade) is awesome,” she said. “I really like it. It brings people together.”

The hour-long parade, which kicked off Saturday’s portion of the town’s Christmas Festival, was filled with more than 100 floats of all varieties, including a live rock band, a monster truck, horses and carriages, antique cars, mascots, marching bands and all kinds of crazy characters throwing candy to the little ones.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump took part in the parade for the first time in many years adding “a major cultural component” to the Nov. 26 celebration.

The historical site usually holds its Heritage Through My Hands event that coincides with the parade, which garnered some unintended competition between the parade and the centre.

It was the first time that Beginning of a New Day Waa Ksistoakii attended the annual parade.

“It’s just neat to do something that brings up Christmas spirit because there’s no snow this year,” she said.

“It’s an official way to start Christmas, other than shopping, and what’s awesome is the amazing community spirit.”

Erika Lukacs came all the way from Taber to watch the parade in which she’s usually taking part.

“This is the first year I’ve watched it completely. We’ve always driven our car. We have an antique car that we drive, but we didn’t bring it this year,” she said.

Being able to see the entire parade she said, “the bands are very special, and Santa Claus of course.”

Darrin Hankey and his daughter Mattaya were enjoying the parade with a wide open view on the farthest end of the parade route.

They moved to Fort Macleod a couple of years ago, and looked forward to seeing the Jolly Old Elf again.

“I think she wants to see Santa,” said Darrin.

“We like to see all the different floats and the kids in parade and the bands, and maybe some candy, eh?” he asked Mattaya.

Hankey added the parade is a festive way to get the Christmas season rolling.

“I think it’s awesome that this kind of event is here, and keep it up, because I think it’s a great way to show a little bit of Christmas spirit and start the season.”

Fort Macleod’s Christmas Festival continued after the parade with a giant craft sale, pictures with Santa, a family movie at the Empress Theatre, a Rotary Auction, a family dance and plenty of food at the Food Barn.

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