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Santa Parade, Celebration of Lights adapt to pandemic

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Troy Shantz

Two of Sarnia’s most beloved Christmas traditions— the Santa Claus Parade and Celebration of Lights — are going ahead this year, but with changes.

The Sarnia Kinsmen Santa Claus Parade will shift to Lambton College and become a ‘drive-thru’ affair, with the floats remaining in place and spectators viewing them from the comfort of their slowly moving cars.

“Santa knows all about it. We got his approval first,” said parade chair Bob Marks, noting similar parades are planned in Forest and Hamilton.

At the Dec. 5 event, vehicles can enter the college grounds from either Wellington Street or London Road, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Two-way traffic will allow spectators to view the stationary floats and performers from both sides; with the big guy himself parked at the route’s centre.

About 20 floats have already committed, Marks said.

“Everybody that heard about it was very excited.”

COVID-19 guidelines will be used at the parade, which is sponsored by the Sarnia Kinsmen Club and approved by Lambton Public Health, City Hall, and Lambton College, Marks said.

Vehicles will drive by at 10 kilometres per hour with no stops, and floats are limited to five people each, he said.

“These are all specific rules that were laid out to us and we’re going to adhere to them very strictly.”

Event and food bank donations can be mailed to, Kinsmen Club of Sarnia, P.O. Box 861, Sarnia, ON., N7T 7J9. Donations also accepted at Tourism Sarnia Lambton, 1455 Venetian Blvd, Point Edward.

Meanwhile, the 36th annual Celebration of Lights is returning to Centennial Park on Nov. 28 to help brighten the season.

This year’s event won’t be as large as usual, and visitors will be guided through the light displays with waypoints to ensure groups are separated, said spokesperson Chuck Archer.

“All of these traditional experiences are becoming a challenge,” he said. “This is one event that has the ability to offer social distancing.”

For those who don’t want to go in person, a video walkthrough will be available on a revamped website at

For safety reasons, no opening ceremonies are planned, but Santa will hold live video chats on the website starting in November, Archer said.

The annual residential Home Celebration Contest is also a go, and details will be posted on the website, Archer added.

Given how difficult this year has been for everyone it was important to keep the tradition alive, Archer said.

“I think the community needs it to maintain some sense of normalcy. This is an annual event that’s an important time of year for some families.”

The community set-up of displays takes place Nov. 21, starting at 9 a.m. Volunteers are needed and always welcome, as are donations.

Email [email protected], call 519-330-4490 or write to, P.O. Box 2684, Sarnia, ON, N7T 7V9.

The Celebration of Lights will run daily through December, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. until New Year’s Eve. No opening ceremony is planned for this year, organizers said.

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