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Lions’ Club Annual Santa Claus Parade in Westport
By Lucille Bresee
Mother Nature provided an absolutely beautiful day on November 26, 2011 for our annual Santa Claus Parade, sponsored by the Westport Lions Club. If you were riding on a float, passing out treats for the children or just a spectator or part of a musical entry, you had to feel the excitement and admit having the Christmas spirit.
As Parade Master of Ceremonies and commentator Dale Lyons was assisted by Wills Sounds System. The three judges, Penny Warriner, Betty McInnis and Lucille Bresee had a difficult task in choosing a winner of the “Closest to the Theme” category as there were several excellent choices. They chose the float presented by The Catholic Women’s League who recently celebrated a special anniversary of their service here at St. Edward’s (90 years) and the 125th anniversary of St. Edward School. Their float was aptly entitled “No Room At the Inn”. The, “Most Creative” category went to the Lions Club for their Scrap Metal Recycling Project which has proved to be an excellent fundraiser for the club. Don Baker has located the bins at his home, and already $850. has been taken in.
The final plaque for the “Honorary Mention” category was awarded to “The Westport Pet Kennel” which operates on the same property as West Winds Ranch. This float delighted the children especially as it had real live animals like an alpaca, pot bellied pig, young goat and a white rat, to name a few.
Elswood and David Gamble with their beautiful Belgian horses have been a part of our parade almost every year. Elswood drove his team of two year olds, excellently trained and decked out in all their finery.
It wouldn’t be a parade without a band and toe tapping music so everyone welcomed, the Perth Citizen’s Band, the Rideau District High School Band and the Cowan Boys belting out a fast rhythm with the Spencer Evans Trio, popular with everyone in this area.
A wide variety of vintage and other specialty cars drew a lot of attention, ranging from a 1956 Chevrolet through a wide range of models up to 1971; all spic and span and to many present evoked nostalgic memories of a time when they owned one of these beauties.
Lion Jim McGlade with his A.T.V. and trailer was on hand to receive non-perishable food donations for our local Food Bank. The Club will sponsor a Christmas Dinner at the Beach House for the people who benefit from this facility, and run by volunteers.
There were a number of excellent and eye catching floats from local businesses, individuals and some with a religious theme reminding us of what the season tells what a giving time of year this is and that the theme, also tells us that, the Night Before Christmas isn’t very far away.
One star of the Parade was 95-year-old Gordon Garvin, representing local Royal Canadian Legion, No. 542 and almost dwarfed on his scooter by the Bison from the Armoured Vehicle Electronics and Communications School in Kingston. This huge Armoured vehicle of the Electronics Warfare Unit had the little folks in awe of its size. Vehicles from the Westport Depot No. 4 of the Rideau Lakes Fire Department, police and Emergency vehicles, generous clowns giving out candy added to an exciting time.
Following the Parade, the children had an opportunity to speak with Santa and receive a bag of goodies from some Lions Club elves at St. Edward School. Lakeside Barbecue and Fire Place and Kudrinko’s Country Grocer very generously provided hot dogs and buns and drink boxes, ably assisted in the preparation on the BBQ by some Lions volunteers.
It was a great parade and is the result of everyone working together as a team and Parade Marshall Don Baker and his team are to be congratulated.