New Brunswick

Duelling Santas: A tale of 2 Saint John parades

“The west is best” is a popular saying among competing Saint John communities, but two Santa Claus parades on consecutive weekends goes a little further than the traditional west-versus-rest rivalry.

Lancaster parade keeps with tradition of daytime holiday celebration

The Lancaster Santa Claus Parade differs from the uptown Saint John Santa Claus Parade by keeping with the tradition of holding the event in the daytime. (CBC)

"The west is best" is a popular saying among competing Saint John communities, but two Santa Claus parades on consecutive weekends goes a little further than the traditional west-versus-rest rivalry.

This Saturday afternoon, families will line up from Manawagonish Rd. to Fairville Blvd. for the Lancaster Santa Claus Parade.

It's the same route homemade floats would have taken in the parade before the city amalgamated with Saint John in 1967.

After amalgamation, Lancaster parade chairperson Blaine Harris said it merged with the Saint John parade for decades.

It wasn't until 17 years ago when the city moved to an evening affair, that Harris said talk of breaking away began.

Parade chairperson Blaine Harris says they brought back the Lancaster parade because people missed a daytime event. (CBC)
"They always had a daytime parade and that's what people missed," said Harris.

Thanks to the Saint John Lancaster Business Association, this will be the 12th annual west-side parade.

Without the cover of darkness, there are no shortcuts for those designing the floats.

"You can't decorate it with lights, because there's no lights to be seen," said Harris.

Without taking away from the efforts of Saint John's uptown parade, Harris said the west-side spectacle requires more time and effort.

Students at St. Rose School are working on decorations for a float during art class. (CBC)
Down the road from Harris' barbershop, the children at St. Rose School have been putting in that extra effort in art classes.

Over the past few weeks, they've managed to construct an impressive array of decorations for their Island of Misfit Toys float.

Grade 4 teacher Michelle Horrobin said each classroom at the school has pitched in.

"Be it characters made out of paper plates and yarn," said Horrobin, "to a papier mâché jack-in-the-box, to the train, to signs, we sort of have it all."

Horrobin said the daytime parade gives students a chance to showcase items missed in the dark. "You don't see the lights, but you also have an opportunity to display more beautiful things."

One of the creations ready for this year's Lancaster Santa Claus Parade, ready to go on the Island of Misfit Toys float. (CBC)
While the route may be shorter than the Saint John Santa Claus Parade, Harris said this year it has more floats.

They get a high turnout of participants because they don't have a $200 registration fee to enter the parade like his rivals charge, he said.

Harris said one float does have several paid advertisements, but those proceeds are donated to the Saint John Food Bank.

The Lancaster Santa Claus Parade begins at 1 p.m. Saturday in front of Barnhill School on Manawagonish Rd.

now