Petrolia’s Santa Claus parade cancelled over COVID-19 concerns

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Petrolia's annual Christmas parade - this is 2018 - usually brings in the crowds. This year, the event has been cancelled as COVID-19 cases rise in the province.

“We’re still going to find a way to get Santa to the kids.”

That from Laurissa Ellsworth, Petrolia’s director of marketing arts and communication after a late night meeting where town officials cancelled this year’s Santa Claus parade in its traditional form.

During Monday night’s meeting, councillors approved the Sept. 2 minutes of the Community Services Committee, which hosts the parade.

In it, the theme for the parade – Under the Sea – was chosen. It seemed like the parade was a go for Dec. 5 despite the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Ontario and pleas from public health officials to reduce the number of people in social circles to the bare minimum to stem the second wave.

Ellsworth says after the council meeting, she, the town’s Emergency Management Coordinator, Fire Chief Jay Arns, and the Director of Community Services, Dave Menzies met via teleconference and decided conditions had changed so much in the month since the community services committee met, the parade could not be held. “It’s just the way the (COVID-19 case) numbers are right now,” says Ellsworth.

She says even with spreading out the parade route and encouraging people only to watch the event with their family, “there is no way to make sure people don’t gather.”

“The Community Services Advisory Committee wanted to do their best to put something positive out there for groups and families to participate in for this years’ Petrolia Christmas Parade but after very careful consideration and close attention to the rising numbers provincially, we just couldn’t proceed,” says Menzies in a news release.

Ellsworth says the committee and town staff are looking for other ways to celebrate Christmas and have Santa make an appearance, making sure all the pandemic protocols and everyone stays safe.